Date of Award

8-2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Amy Naugle

Second Advisor

Dr. Scott Gaynor

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Brooke Smith

Keywords

LGBT, self-comparison, compassion, intervention, stigma, sexual stigma

Abstract

Sexual minority persons often experience notable negative mental and physical health disparities when compared to their heterosexual counterparts. According to the minority stress framework, it is posited that these discrepancies are due to additional, group-specific stressors that they experience beyond stress felt by the general population. One such minority stress variable that has received considerable attention is sexual stigma. Not only has sexual stigmatization been found to be related to negative mental and physical health outcomes, it has also previously been found to hinder adaptive emotion regulation.

Due to the minority stress felt by sexual minority persons, there is a risk for the high endorsement of felt stigma and the adoption of internalized stigmatization. Therefore, emotion regulation-focused interventions that address response modulation may be beneficial. Compassion-based interventions have been found to be effective in decreasing psychopathology and increasing resiliency. Utilizing a within subjects nonconcurrent multiple baseline design, this study evaluated the efficacy of a three-session self-compassion intervention to address felt sexual stigma, negative physical and psychological health, as well as promote well-being. Assessments were administered to participants (N = 12) during a four, five, or six-week baseline phase, weekly during the intervention phase, and at 3-month follow-up. Participants demonstrated a reliable decrease in perceived sexual stigma and increase in self-compassion, both of which was maintained during 3-month follow-up. Additionally, participants displayed a significant increase in self-esteem and decreases in their scores on measures for difficulties in emotion regulation and fear of negative evaluation at the end of the intervention phase, though only the reductions in difficulties in emotion regulation and fear of negative evaluation were maintain at 3-month follow-up.

These findings suggest that the brief compassion-based intervention evaluated in this study likely contributed to improvements in the two primary variables of interest. However, the failure to maintain improvements over time for several secondary health variables suggests that this intervention may function better as an important adjunctive treatment or as a first level intervention. Alternatively, it is possible that the brief therapy model may have impacted treatment outcomes. Future research should continue investigating the efficacy of compassion-based interventions in alleviating felt stigma and the potential these interventions have in disrupting the formation and development of internalized sexual stigma.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Campus Only

Restricted to Campus until

10-15-2022

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