Exploring the psychosocial support needs of Australian young people with appearance-related distress: Acceptability of YP Face IT for Australia.

Caroline Gee1, Associate Professor Peter Newcombe2, Dr Jessica Maskell3, Dr Heidi Williamson4 , Professor Roy Kimble5

1 Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, Centre for Children’s Health Research, Level 7, 62 Graham Street, South Brisbane, QLD, 4101, c.gee@uq.edu.au
2 School of Psychology, McElwain Building, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, 4072, p.newcombe@uq.edu.au
3 Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Gold Coast University Hospital, Social Work Department, 1 Hospital Boulevard, Southport, QLD 4217, j.maskell@uq.edu.au
4 Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, Bristol, UK, BS16 1QY, Heidi3.Williamson@uwe.ac.uk
5 Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research & Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, 7D Surgical Directorate, Level 7, 501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane, QLD, 4101, royk@uq.edu.au

Living with a condition that alters one’s appearance can be challenging. Despite medical efforts, permanent disfigurement can still ensue. This can be particularly distressing for teenagers whose physical attributes become key to their sense of identity (Dacey & Kenny 1994). Consequently, being perceived as ‘different’ can contribute to enduring psychosocial difficulties (Rumsey & Harcourt 2007). However, there are limited accessible and age appropriate evidence-based psychological interventions for teenagers who have an altered appearance (Jenkinson et al. 2015). This is a significant issue that needs addressing.

The Centre for Appearance Research (UK) have developed an online program called Young People’s Face IT (YP Face IT). Designed specifically for 12 to 17 year olds, YP Face IT is a seven-week intervention, combining cognitive behavioural therapy and social skills training to target psychosocial consequences associated with having an altered appearance. As YP Face IT was developed in Britain for British teenagers, it is important to establish its cultural acceptability outside of the United Kingdom.

This research will be an Australian first. Semi-structured interviews will explore the psychosocial support needs of Australian teenagers who have an altered appearance and the perspectives of health professionals who care for them. An acceptability study will establish YP Face IT’s cultural suitability to meet the needs of Australian teenagers with appearance-related distress.

Data collection is ongoing and preliminary findings will be forthcoming.

Findings from these studies will inform the development and implementation of a culturally acceptable version of YP Face IT for further feasibility and efficacy testing.

Key Words

Appearance, Psychosocial, YP Face IT

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