Teenagers with conditions that affect their appearance wanted to test new support programme

Issue date: 14 August 2012

YT Face IT

The Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) at UWE Bristol is looking to recruit young people aged 13 – 18 to test out a new support programme for those with a condition that affects their appearance.

CAR has teamed up with the charities Changing Faces, the British Skin Foundation, the Ichthyosis Support Group and the Vocational Training Charitable Trust to develop YP Face IT, an innovative online support programme for teenagers with worries about skin conditions, hair loss or scarring.

Catrin Griffiths, who helped design YP Face IT, said, “Research indicates that 1 in 500 people in the UK have a condition, injury or have undergone treatment that affects appearance, such as a skin condition, hair loss, or scarring.

“The media overwhelmingly portrays beauty using fake and airbrushed images of the 'perfect' man or women. This has significantly influenced both men and women in western society to prioritise 'looking perfect' over other characteristics such as being intelligent, kind or having a successful career. This can reach the extent that anyone that doesn't fit this very narrow and unrealistic idea of beauty may be seen as 'different'.

“The aim of the programme is to teach skills to young people who have concerns due to altered appearance so that they can feel and act more confidently.”

The specially-developed programme uses techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy, social skills training and interactive activities, videos, illustrations and avatars. The researchers are looking to recruit 20 teenagers to test out the new programme, which involves taking part in one hour long session per week for 7 weeks, at home on their own computer.

Catrin continued, “People who have a condition that affects appearance are more likely to experience staring, unwanted attention and prejudice from others. Although many cope well with their condition, these reactions from other people can increase the likelihood of experiencing psychosocial difficulties such as anxiety, depression, poor body image and interpersonal difficulties, particularly during adolescence which is a key stage in psychological development.

“Currently there is a lack of evidence-based psychosocial support for teenagers with a condition that affects appearance. That is why we have developed this 7 week programme which has been reviewed by specialist health professionals and young people with a condition that affects appearance, who have provided positive feedback about the programme.”

If you would like to find out more about this project, please contact catrin.griffiths@uwe.ac.uk

Back to top