Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Lizabeth Roemer

Second Advisor

Tahirah Abdullah

Third Advisor

Karen Suyemoto


Racism and racism-related stress has been shown to be associated with negative mental health outcomes among people of color (POC), such as increased depressive and anxious symptoms (e.g., Williams, Neighbors, & Jackson, 2003). Further, approximately up to 98% of all POC report experiencing a racist experience over the past year and in their lifetime, indicating that racism-related stress is a chronic experience. Most research on coping with racism has evaluated the cross-sectional impact of racism and mental health but has yet to identify which coping strategies may be most effective as buffers against the psychological impact of racism. Further, little research has evaluated intervention adaptations specifically targeting strategies to ameliorate the mental health sequelae of racial discrimination.

This dissertation examines the effectiveness of a brief mindfulness- and valued action-based health intervention adapted to target POC’s emotional responses and coping in the face of discrimination. This dissertation consists of two monographs. The first monograph is entitled, “Mindfulness and Valued Living in the Face of Racism,” and is composed of a synthesized literature review and provides considerations for mindfulness- and valued-living (MVL) approaches adapted to address racism-related stress.

The second monograph presents an empirical quantitative study, entitled, “The Effectiveness of a Mindfulness, Acceptance, Valued Action, and Flexible Coping Intervention for Race-based Stress on Momentary Coping and Distress Symptoms.” The empirical study examined and interpreted data collected from a pilot intervention study using a waitlist-control design and momentary assessment methodology. The study evaluated the effectiveness of a brief MVL intervention for coping with racism, as well as the effectiveness of MVL strategies on negative affect during discriminatory incidences the moment they occur. Twenty-eight students of color were recruited from an urban, public, northeastern university, and were randomized into either an intervention condition or a waitlist control condition. Participants found the MVL intervention adapted to address racism-related distress to be helpful overall. Participants randomized into the MVL condition showed a medium effect of a decrease in depression and stress symptoms from pre- to post-assessment. However, our sample was underpowered to detect statistically significant differences. Implications and future directions are discussed.