Loading Events

Come join us & enjoy a movie!
Followed by a discussion of psychoanalytic themes in the movie led by:

Peter J. LaBarbera, LCSW, LP, NCPsyA


This program is co-sponsored and approved for 3 CEUs by The New Jersey Society for Clinical Social work

Light refreshments will be served


Wonder: The Importance of Peer Relations in Child Development

The movie “Wonder” opens up a door leading to the inner emotional experience of the world of the young adolescent. It presents an opportunity to view with clarity the hopes, fears and various degrees of acting out behaviors prevalent to this specific age group. It also presents us with the reality that adolescent striving requires an adult to occasionally help out with necessary aspects of limit setting in the interest of modeling appropriate boundaries in relation to peers.

One of the major themes is the over-all importance of peer interaction as viewed through the emotional experiences of the main character of the movie. It is the interaction of this young man with his peers that illustrates both the importance of the adolescent peer group and the potential for its use as a positive force, through structured groupwork for clinical treatment.

Since the culture of the adolescent centers around peer perception and acceptance, youth groups offer the potential to create an opportunity to communicate the need for both support and help in a number of important areas related to potentially dangerous scenarios. These may include threats of suicide, threats of acts of aggression and incidents of long-term bullying.

Traditional psychoanalytic theory states that it is the internalization of identifications of the objects of morality during later childhood and adolescence that contribute significantly to the nature of superego dynamics. There is also a very common and well -known expression declaring that children within this age group are very impressionable. I am suggesting here that these two points are very much related.

The implementation of the psychoanalytic concept of “Holding Environment” into the everyday workings of group dynamics and process is an extremely effective way to offer the protection from both the internal and external dangers commonly experienced by the adolescent during the ongoing treatment process. As the quality of mature peer interaction develops through emphasis on appropriate treatment, benign responsiveness and genuine support from the group leader, the potential for the internalization of positive identifications with group leader and other group members is enhanced.

It is through this experience with both group leader and members that an opportunity for a shift in the superego to take place from one that is overly harsh and demanding, to one that is more accepting and less conflictual.

The issue of confidentiality versus the adult request for access to information will be discussed in a number of different scenarios.

The movie also reveals the potential challenges that the on-going care of disability/special-needs children can create for siblings.

Learning Objectives:

  • How timely and appropriate limit setting is the key to unlocking the door to resistance with the adolescent.
  • How the clinician insisting on honesty at all times sets the tone for the development of a good working alliance.
  • How groupwork is the most effective modality for working with adolescents in a wide range of settings.
  • How utilizing a structured schedule when working with adolescents in groups can allow for the development of an enhanced level of intimacy for all group members through the experience of positive peer interac­tion.
  • How the maintenance of confidentiality with the clinician and other group members allows the groundwork to be established for ongoing trust and effectively functional working alliances.
  • How understanding and implementing the concept of “Holding Environment” can serve as a model for good clinical practice with adolescents.
  • How the experience of being accepted by both the clinician and their own peer group can lead to the enhanced capacity for the adolescent to accept him/herself with a reduced tendency for self-destructive behavior.




About The Presenter:

Peter J. LaBarbera, LP, NCPsyA, LCSW has been a practicing Psychoanalyst in private practice in Manhattan since 1988. For a period of 27 years, he also worked as a school social worker in the high schools of New York City, treating approximately 3,000 students. He was also a championship baseball coach who developed a number of excellent high school players who were drafted by Major League Baseball and went on to sign professional contracts. He is an instructor at The New Jersey Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis. http://peterjlabarbera.com

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!