Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Mindfulness and Acceptance for Sexual Minorities Experiencing Work Stress

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

William O'Brien (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Kristina LaVenia (Other)

Third Advisor

Clare Barratt (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Abby Braden (Committee Member)


In the work place, people who identify as sexual minorities experience elevated levels of incivility, discrimination, and a general lack of protection from unfair workplace practices. These difficulties can then lead to physical, psychological, social, and intrapersonal deficits. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a contextual-behavioral therapy that is associated with improving psychological and health outcomes across a myriad of difficulties. Further, ACT has been used with people who identify as sexual minorities, and as a treatment for work stress. However, it has never been used to address work stress for sexual minorities. The current study is a two-part study. Study 1 was a cross-sectional assessment of variables related to the sexual minority experience: work stress, well-being, psychological flexibility, and internalized homonegativity. I hypothesized that greater work stress would be related to lower well-being, lower psychological flexibility, and higher internalized homonegativity. All correlations were observed in the hypothesized directions. Regarding the mediational analysis, psychological flexibility was found to be a significant mediator between work stress and wellbeing, but internalized homonegativity was not. This relation suggests that psychological flexibility could be used by sexual minorities to cope in difficult workplace situations and helped inform the Study 2 was a feasibility and acceptability study of an ACT intervention for sexual minorities experiencing work stress. All measures of feasibility and acceptability indicated that participants found the intervention to be helpful, effective, and insightful. Further, outcome measures that were considered targets of the ACT intervention were administered to assess if change happened at a statistically significant level. One-tailed paired-samples t-tests, reliable change index scores, and sign tests were used to assess meaningful change on outcome variables. Significant change was observed for several measures. These results suggest that ACT may be a beneficial intervention for sexual minority employees struggling with work stress.