Practical Parenting Strategies with Dr. Heller View All Posts

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About Practical Parenting Strategies with Dr. Heller

Dr. Carey Heller is a licensed psychologist and founding partner with The Heller Psychology Group LLC, which is a small private practice located in Bethesda, Maryland near Montgomery Mall. He specializes in working with children, adolescents, and their families. Dr. Heller conducts play, individual, and family psychotherapy for a variety... Read more

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Dr. Carey Heller: clinical psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group in Bethesda, Maryland

Helping Your Teen Improve Their Image

Dr. Carey Heller: clinical psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group in Bethesda, Maryland

Dr. Carey Heller: clinical psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group in Bethesda, Maryland

Most teens worry about how their peers perceive them. Many of them want to be popular, or at the very least, not be ridiculed and blend in. For individuals who struggle with social skills, bullying, weight issues, perceived or actual promiscuity, or other issues, it can be tough to change peers’ perceptions of them and improve their image. Nonetheless, it can be done to varying degrees, as long as your teen is interested, and here are a few suggestions to help facilitate this with your teen:

1)      Help your teen identify the issue that is causing damage to his or her image (i.e., interrupts others constantly, acts childish, is perceived as promiscuous). Then, have them write out a list of ways to improve this issue. Stopping the issue is the first step in your teen improving their image.

2)      Time helps. The summer is a great time to help your teen improve issues that are affecting his or her image. Beginning a new school year is also a great time for your teen to revamp his or her image. In some cases, changing schools can make a big difference, provided that the issue causing damage to the self image has been appropriately resolved.

3)      Encourage your teen to take responsibility for the issue that is the cause of the damage to his or her image if it is true, provided that they are working to change that issue. For example, if your teen has issues with peers because he laughs strangely, encourage him to own up to it if peers bother him about it. Your teen could admit to them that yes, he does have a strange laugh, and he doesn’t like it either. As a result, he could tell peers that he has adjusted his laugh so it’s no longer an issue. As another example, if your female teen has developed a reputation for bullying or gossiping about peers and spreading rumors, your teen could own up to this behavior if it comes up. She could then apologize, and explain that she’s changed because she didn’t like herself either when she acted like that.

4)      Sometimes slight changes in appearance can be helpful in changing one’s image. Such changes may include a slightly different style of clothing, new hairstyle, or noticeable accessories. It is best if your teen comes up with these types of changes themselves and he or she shouldn’t make any changes to their appearance unless it is something that they want to do. The rationale for a slight change is that it draws subtle attention to peers and signals to them that this person is a bit different now. The physical change can help facilitate the perception and actualization of your teen changing in a positive way.

These suggestions should serve as a general guide for helping your teen to improve/repair his or her image. Obviously the specifics of how to change will vary based on the reason for the damaged image.  It is very important that you help support your teen as they try to improve their image. In some cases, outside services may be necessary, whether it be a psychologist or other mental health professional, personal trainer, speech-language therapist, or other service provider, depending on your teen’s specific needs.

I hope these suggestions have been helpful.

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*Disclaimer: The previous information is intended as general guidance based on my professional opinion, does not constitute an established professional relationship,  and should not replace the recommendations of a psychologist or other licensed professional with whom you initiate or maintain a professional relationship*

Carey Heller, Psy.D.

About Carey Heller, Psy.D.

Dr. Carey Heller is a licensed psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. He works with children, adolescents, and young adults, providing psychological/psychoeducational evaluations and individual psychotherapy. Dr. Heller specializes in ADHD, executive functioning issues, and Autism Spectrum Disorder and is happy to answer questions and provide consultations for individuals who are considering pursuing treatment or an evaluation for their child, adolescent, or themselves. Dr. Heller can be reached directly at 301.385.2610 or For appointments, please call the office at (301) 385-2610 or email The Heller Psychology Group at with your contact information and availability for appointment times.


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