Megan E. Turchetti, PsyD, is a 2012 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England.

Dissertation Committee

  • Colborn Smith, PhD (Committee Chair)
  • Martha Straus, PhD (Committee Member)
  • Amanda Houle, PsyD (Committee Member)


teen pregnancy, transition to motherhood, rural teenagers, teen mothers, group intervention, relational theory

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This dissertation project involved the program development and evaluation of a group intervention designed for pregnant and mothering teens. Current services for teenage mothers have significant problems with utilization. This is especially true for teen mothers living in rural regions. Research on service utilization demonstrates that many programs for teen mothers lack integrated understanding of this population’s needs as adolescents, and their needs as new mothers. The present group intervention, Mothering: A Beginners’ Group (MBG), integrates conceptual frameworks including empowerment, psychoeducation, and relational therapy in an effort to address the complex needs of teen mothers. A group space was designed to allow participants to examine their current relationships, and to form new relationships with fellow mothering teens. An action research framework was utilized to enlist the help of group participants in the evaluation of MBG. It was believed that participation would provide teens with additional social support and help them develop coping skills to meet the demands of their lives. Seven teenagers living rural New England participated in this group. Evaluation of MBG was completed through a mixed-methods design. Descriptive data was obtained on the demographics of the group. Additionally, quantitative data was obtained through completion of a self-efficacy measure before and after the intervention. These measures were correlated with participants’ level of group attendance. A significant positive correlation (r = .86, p < .058) was found between increased group attendance and increased self-efficacy.

Finally, qualitative analysis of postintervention questionnaires and researcher process notes indicated pertinent themes of social isolation, relational stress, and the stresses of transitioning into motherhood. Findings suggest that MBG provides an increased sense of social support to pregnant and mothering teenagers. Implications of these results bring attention to the complexity of the competing developmental goals of adolescence and motherhood; support the use of relational group interventions with populations of pregnant and parenting teenagers; and indicate the need for integration of the lived experience of teenage mothers into the design of programs which serve this population.