Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Ronald Jay Werner-Wilson


Popular family based treatment approaches have generally failed to take into account the unique contextual issues adolescent females face in their development. Gender socialization, cultural stereotypes, and the meaning given to physical changes at puberty, are a few of these sociological contexts that are uniquely different for developing adolescent girls as compared to boys. The purpose of this research was to highlight voices of female adolescents as they shared their experience of being involved in a gender-specific treatment program designed to address the unique issues they faced as developing females. A qualitative methodology was chosen which consisted of eight interviews of adolescent girls who had participated in a particular gender-specific treatment program. Results detail that social context is a large and influential part of the developmental context of these young women. The young women interviewed also reported two main types of change they experienced in the program, namely (1) applied change, which refers to skills learned, and (2) internal change, which refers to how they saw themselves and others. The young women also presented general themes of "finding myself," "liking myself," and "discovering myself"---all of which translated into better self-esteem. Results also indicated that personal desire and a supportive program environment influenced change. Challenges to change were member inappropriateness for the group and mixed messages from the program itself. Interviews also revealed that change could either occur during the program as a direct and immediate result, or change could have a "delayed-impact" where effects of program involvement were not apparent until sometime after completion of the program. Ideas are discussed for how parents, educators, and marriage and family therapists can better enhance the development of female adolescents. Discussed are ways to (1) raise awareness of female adolescent issues, (2) support young women who display non-traditional female behaviors and interests, (3) provide raining for those working with young women, (4) promote positive connections among young women, and (5) enhance program development.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Lue Kirsten Turner



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

149 pages