Journey to Wholeness: Helping Girls Heal from Trauma and Self-Objectification


By Lara Eisenberg, Professional Clinical Counselor

The media presents female bodies in unrealistic ways which leads girls to believe that those bodies are the norm.  Girls strive to achieve an unattainable standard of “perfection.”. These unrealistic images and the socialization/sexualization of girls causes low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, poor relationship skills and self-care, substance abuse,  and eating disorders.  They begin to self-objectify and learn their value comes from their body and appeal, leaving out their thoughts, feelings and characteristics as a human being.  This mind-body disconnect puts them at-risk for many forms of abuse.

In addition to the harmful effects of the media, traumatic experiences can cause the body and mind to split and increases the chance of further violation. Girls may begin to abuse substances in an effort to drown the feelings associated with the event. Teens often feel shame, guilt, sense of unsafety and a loss of control.  Without help and support,  they may act out in reaction to their trauma versus making healthy decisions that honor themselves.

In order to promote healthy teen development, it is crucial that we explore the effects of media and unresolved trauma on their body and mind and support the healthy development of their emotional, mental, and sexual health.  Embodiment practices (mind-body integration), healthy boundaries, affect regulation, trauma resolution practices and healthy relationship skills are the foundation on a teen’s journey to wholeness.

Parents and service providers play a crucial role in changing girls’ trajectory of poor self-esteem, body image and violation.   As each girl reclaims her body,  voice and sexuality, she takes part in ending the pervasive cycle of violence within her mind and heart and ultimately in the world.

Join me on November 5th at the San Diego County Office of Education to learn how to support girls on this  Journey to Wholeness.  Through discussion, short videos and experiential exercises, participants will learn the impact of media and objectification on girls’ body image, the impact of trauma on girls’ well-being and various trauma resolution practices.

Participants will learn the following:

  • The impact of trauma on the physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual functioning of our girls
  • The impact of the media on girls body image and the detrimental effects of “self-objectification”
  • Trauma resolution practices
  • Stress management and self-esteem boosting practices/ tools to implement with teen girls
  • The power of mindfulness in the resolution of trauma and toxic shame
  • How self-care as educators plays a crucial role in the resolution of chronic stress and trauma in our youth

For more information and to register, please click here

Lara Eisenberg

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Why teens choose friends over parents

Ever wonder why your teen is so set on getting advice from their peers, rather than you – their older, wiser parent? Dan Siegel, renowned psychiatrist and brain researcher, tells us why in this short video.



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What’s inside my teen’s head?

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Teen Depression: Q & A

1. What is one of the most common reasons a teen might get depressed?

Usually lacking a feeling of belonging, fitting in, whether that’s with peers, at home or in the community, can contribute to depression.  This lack of fitting is somewhat normal given that adolescence is a time of great transition. However, pair that transition with poor self-esteem or lack of connection with others that feel safe and depression can ensue.

2. What might help keep a teen from getting or being depressed?

Talk your feelings out, no matter how silly they may think they are. Don’t think you have to handle everything on your own – there are people who want to listen and support you. Take regular self-inventories of your mood, behaviors, friends and way you spend your time.

3. What is a common reason that a teen might have thoughts of suicide?

Severe, untreated depression can lead to thoughts of suicide. When that happens, teens may be feeling a sense of worthlessness. Teens who struggle in this way feel lost about how to deal with the challenges in life.

4. What is the most effective treatment for teens with depression?

Well, this depends on the teen. But usually psychotherapy with a competent clinician that utilizes various methods including cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness tools that include the body. This combination can help a teen get to the root of the depression, while also teaching him or her more effective ways of coping with life difficulties and changes. Sometimes, medication (administered by an MD) can also be a helpful adjunct to therapy, depending on each individual person.

5. What should I do if I know one of my friends is depressed?

Encourage them to talk to a trusted and safe adult. Teens need to connect with another person with whom he or she feels safe and accepted so that he or she can be honest about difficult feelings. While having close friends can make all the difference as a teen, talking to a trusted adult can guide struggling teens in a way that ensures they get the help they need.

6. What should I do if I have a friend that has thoughts of suicide but won’t get help?

To have that friend tell an adult (parent, teach, counselor, coach) who can then make sure their friend remains safe and gets the help they need.  Sometimes, friends feel afraid to tell this secret to an adult who can help. But, when we really care about someone we are willing to risk them getting upset with us for the sake of their health and well-being.

7. What is one way to reduce the likelihood of a teen becoming depressed?

To always be self-expressive, either through talking, creative arts, or physical activity and to share that self-expression with someone you trust. Also, choosing to spend your time with others who are positive, make healthy choices and treat you with respect, can help to ward off depression. Parents make a huge difference here–the more available, loving, and non-judgmental parents are in listening to their teens’ thoughts, feelings and opinions–the more resilient their teen will become.

8. What can a high school student to do to help keep teen depression and suicide rates low at their school?

Talk to the administration (principal, counselors)  and collaborate on having support systems in the school that promote positive mental health, such as peer mentoring programs, school-wide assemblies that promote healthy relationships and access to other community-wide programs that can connect teens with the extra support they might need. Be an ambassador for sound mental health by standing up for what you believe in and by treating yourself and everyone else with respect.


Nicole Kahn, M.A., Ed.M. is a San Diego licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who specializes in treating teens and their families who struggle with depression, anxiety, addictions and unresolved trauma. For more about Nicole, click here.

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