Graduation Date

Summer 2021

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Benjamin Graham

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Brandilynn Villarreal

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Carrie Aigner

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



Repeated exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increases risks for various physical and mental health problems during adulthood. While research and policy decisions have focused primarily on early interventions and preventions, less research to date has looked at treatment options for adults with high exposure to ACEs. Cognitive behavioral therapies are viewed as an effective alternative; however, the high costs of therapy and limited efficacy for physical health problems warrant research into alternatives. Expressive writing is a well studied alternative to traditional talk-based therapies with limited demographic moderators. However, no research to date has looked at the role of ACEs as a potential moderating factor on the impact of expressive writing. The current study addresses this gap by examining the role of exposure to ACEs on expressive writing outcomes.

A 2x3 and 2x3x2 mixed model ANOVA was used to compare an expressive writing group to a neutral writing control group on outcomes commonly associated with high ACEs: depression, anxiety, physical health, trauma, and health related quality of life. High and low ACE scores served as moderators. Although the current study yielded an underpowered sample for statistical effects testing, trend data and clinical significance testing suggest ACE scores may play a moderating role in physical health outcomes but not depression, anxiety, trauma, or health related quality of life. Future research with adequately powered samples may yield more insight into this area.

Citation Style