Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sharon G. Horne

Second Advisor

Heidi Levitt

Third Advisor

Nedim Yel


This study explored the efficacy of an online expressive writing intervention in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and event-related distress following an experience of transphobia. Two intervention conditions were explored, a general writing condition including broad prompts similar to those used in the original expressive writing research of Pennebaker and Beall (1986), and one condition using writing prompts with structure reflecting the emotion processing progression characteristic of Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) that was first developed by Levitt and colleagues (2021). Social support and degree of engagement with transgender peers were explored as moderating variables. Both the EFT (n= 44) and GW (n= 47) conditions demonstrated significant reductions from preintervention to postintervention on measures of depression (EFT d= .89, GW d= .78) and anxiety (EFT d= .81, GW d= .59). Significant reductions in event-related distress symptoms were from preintervention to postintervention were observed in the EFT condition (d= .84), but reductions were not significant in the GW condition. At 3-week follow-up, the EFT condition demonstrated sustained reductions in depression symptoms (d= .53) and event-related distress symptoms (d= 1.03). The GW condition demonstrated significant reductions in event-related distress symptoms at 3-week follow-up (d= .93). Overall social support was not found to moderate the relationship between preintervention and postintervention scores on any outcome measure, and there was no association between levels of transgender peer support at pretest and changes in frequency of peer outreach attempts from preintervention to postintervention. Overall, results suggest expressive writing interventions may be a promising tool in coping with transphobic events and warrant further study. Social justice implications are discussed.


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