Keywords: Stress | L / G / B / T | Cognitive Biases / Distortions
Presentation Type: Symposium
Sexual minority women (SMW) are at high risk of trauma exposure and, subsequently, the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We extend a theoretical model explaining the higher risk of mental disorders in minority populations to the maintenance and exacerbation of PTSD symptoms among SMW specifically. Using observational longitudinal data from a sample of N = 348 trauma-exposed SMW with PTSD, we investigate whether external stressors (i.e., criterion A traumatic events, daily experiences of heterosexism) produce cognitive shifts (i.e., trauma-related cognitions, internalized heterosexism) that maintain or exacerbate PTSD. Findings indicate that daily heterosexism longitudinally predicted posttraumatic cognitions (i.e., cognitions related to the self, world, and self-blame). In addition, a significant indirect effect was identified between daily heterosexism and PTSD symptoms via self-related posttraumatic cognitions. These findings indicate that minority-specific stressors appear to promote general cognitive processes that, in turn, may maintain or exacerbate PTSD among SMW. Clinicians should consider assessing daily heterosexism in sexual minority women presenting with PTSD and evaluate how these experiences might promote clients’ global, negative views regarding themselves.
University of Washington
Friday, November 17
8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
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