The Eating Disorders Program

Monmouth Psychological Associates

620 Shrewsbury Ave, Suite D

Tinton Falls, NJ 07701 (At GSP Exit 109)

P: (732) 530-9029    F: (732) 530-0387

Girls Helping Girls


A growing area of interest and concern is that of girl bullying. It is an issue that girls have been faced with for many years, yet only recently has the issue really been brought to the forefront. Several books have now been published (e.g., Queen Bees and Wannabees by Roselind Wiseman, 2002; Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons, 2002) addressing this topic and the potentially damaging effects this phenomenon may have on young girls in our society. In recent years, Dr. Erwin has increasingly seen poignant examples of how girls have been deeply hurt by peers, particularly during their middle school years. Parents have also shared information about some of the difficult experiences their daughters have gone through, such as being "devastated" when she was "banished" by a clique or being "dumped" by her best friend for someone in the more "popular" crowd.

Monmouth Psychological Associates has developed a year-long prevention curriculum in this area called Girls Helping Girls.

In the past, this type of girl bullying behavior or relational aggression (as it has come to be known in the literature) was regarded as a "rite of passage" or a phase (e.g. all girls go through this; it is something they will grow out of). Although some girls do appear to be more resilient and less affected by girl-bullying, there are many that struggle with their self-esteem, self-confidence, and overall self-concept as a result of relational aggression. In fact, it can be identified as a main cause of the eating disorder for many of our patients.

The Girls Helping Girls Program is designed to address girl bullying and identify the 17 main behaviors believed to be at the core of the problem. Each behavior will be identified and explained in terms of why it is mean and what the student can do to help. An example of one of the terms is "False Fronting", which is when a girl or group of girls acts very nice to another girl's face but then say very hurtful, mean things behind her back…leading to a pervasive sense of mistrust of one's social surroundings. By providing a label and description for these behaviors, hopefully girls will begin to communicate and remember that doing these behaviors is considered bullying and therefore mean and hurtful.

This curriculum has been implemented in the Sayreville Middle School, the Colts Neck Middle Schools, and is under consideration in private schools locally and in Boston. The program starts with 6th grade girls identified by their teachers as involved with either side of girl bullying (bully or victim) and prosocial peers. Girls Circles work on 17 target behaviors through the year using skits and worksheets. In order to let the whole school know about those behaviors that are "mean" and "bullying," cartoon exhibits for a Girls Corner bulletin board is maintained by the Girls Circle and their faculty advisor.

Monmouth Psychological Associates provides materials, training, and on-going consultation for the year-long curriculum. The staff in the Eating Disorders Program, highly skilled in working with adolescent girls, helps faculty develop in-house expertise and encourages in-house improvisation. Parent organizations and drug/alcohol alliances are often eager to fund this sort of topical and well-organized, year-long, anti-bullying curriculum.  For more information about how to get started with this program please call Dr. Donald Erwin at 732-530-9029 and check out the official Girls Helping Girls website at