Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Lizabeth Roemer

Second Advisor

Sheree D. Conrad

Third Advisor

Alice S. Carter


Dissociation is generally understood to serve a protective function in the face of overwhelming stress, thus acting as an emotion regulation strategy. While dissociation may be an important survival mechanism during a traumatic experience, long-term dissociative reactions after trauma are generally maladaptive. If difficulties with emotion regulation are an important factor in pathological dissociative symptoms, improving emotion regulation skills may be an effective intervention strategy. Empirical research supporting the connection between trauma, difficulties with emotion regulation, and dissociative symptoms however, is lacking. The current study aimed to fill this gap in the literature by examining the extent and nature of the relationship between traumatic experiences, difficulties with emotion regulation, and later dissociative symptoms in 290 students at a large urban university. Both peritraumatic distress and peritraumatic dissociation were significant predictors of later dissociative symptoms on their own and peritraumatic dissociation explained variance in dissociative symptoms over that explained by peritraumatic distress when examined together. Difficulties in emotion regulation fully mediated the relationship between peritraumatic distress and later dissociative symptoms and partially mediated the relationship between peritraumatic dissociation and later dissociative symptoms. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for future research and clinical practice.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.