Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Heidi M. Levitt

Second Advisor

Alice S, Carter

Third Advisor

Takuya Minami


Simply by existing within our society, LGBTQ people encounter widespread exposure to heterosexist attitudes, behaviors, and policies on a daily basis that ignore, invalidate, or outright discriminate against them. This marginalization contributes to myriad psychological consequences such as depression, suicidality, anxiety, and substance abuse. Despite the fact that LGBTQ people experience mental health issues and some subsequently seek treatment, few interventions exist that specifically address LGBTQ minority stressors; those that do exist tend to treat mental health consequences of societal heterosexism, rather than offering ways to heal from heterosexist experiences directly. In the current study, I explored the ability of three variations of online expressive writing exercises to reduce distress related to experiencing a heterosexist event. In addition to comparing baseline to post-intervention and follow-up scores on measures of psychological distress (including depression, negative affect, trauma-related distress, and internalized homophobia scales) between the three writing conditions and between demographic groups, I conducted a qualitative task analysis on participant responses to study the process by which participants benefitted from the writing exercises. This study contributes to the development of population-specific interventions for LGBTQ people, as well as to the understanding of the processes by which LGBTQ people derive benefit from writing about heterosexist experiences.