by Shauna Frisbie
Working with the adolescent population can be difficult. These are the years when people develop their sense of self and identity, and with the world at their fingertips through social media, that sense of self can be skewed. Today’s young individuals are bombarded by images that are not realistic and many times see themselves as flawed in comparison. This is when an eating disorder can develop. A Therapist’s Guide to Treating Eating Disorders in a Social Media Age presents an innovative therapeutic approach to eating disorders that highlights the influence of social media.
The author, Dr. Shauna Frisbie, has spent over 25 years treating clients with eating disorders. This experience has given her a firsthand understanding of how social media has changed the playing field when treating adolescents. She begins the book by describing eating disorders and how they can be affected by social media as well as the world we live in. She discusses the COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine-related effects that have led to higher use of social media. As this pandemic continues, adolescents are becoming more and more secluded and reliant on social media for their social interactions. Screen time has replaced social gatherings and activities with others as they navigate this new existence.
Dr. Frisbie explores how cultural influences and our human need for social belonging can be skewed by the use of social media. This is very evident in the most recent generations, Gen Z and Millennials. She then takes the reader on a journey into the visual culture that each of us interacts with daily, developing the reader’s understanding of phototherapy techniques and treatment. From this base the reader moves to an understanding of what identity formation is, how it is developed, and how it can be affected by the use of social media. Dr. Frisbie explores family and identity through client narratives of childhood experiences. With the use of case studies throughout the book, the reader is given a look inside the therapy room.
The technique of using images for narrative creation with the client allows the therapist to understand the client’s perspective. By using this technique, the client discovers the underlying messages that are impacting the relationship they have with their bodies. Social media is full of images—good, bad, and ugly. By using images to help the adolescent discover their narrative of self, the therapist can make the client comfortable.
Dr. Frisbie has given the reader a great deal of information that is quite easy to absorb and put into practice. The depth of the information when discussing the science behind our identities and how social media may play a role in that development is enough to give the reader an understanding without the weight of being overwhelmed by it. The reader will walk away with a better grasp on how social media may play a role in their clients’ lives. With this understanding, a therapist can navigate the possible troubled waters of the adolescent client and their body image.
Frisbie, S. (2020). A Therapist’s Guide to Treating Eating Disorders in a Social Media Age. W. W. Norton.
Reviewed by: Amy Perschbacher, MA, NCC, LPC, Ronan Psychological Associates
The Professional Counselor