Monday, January 19, 2015

My Dissertation Abstract

Guided by the theory of inhibition and confrontation, this dissertation examines the relationship between stressful life events, family communication and PTSD development among diverse (46.9% Latina/o, 18.4% Armenian, 18.4% White, and 16.3% other) west coast public school adolescents (n=98) referred for counseling in schools.

Secondary analysis of a cross-­sectional survey was conducted and revealed that all adolescents in this sample endorsed at least one stressful event in their lifetime with an average of 7 lifetime events, including illness, death, and indirect and direct violence exposure.

Exactly half of the sample reported PTSD symptoms in the clinical range with re-experiencing and arousal symptoms the most commonly endorsed.

Adolescents reported both open and problem family communication with higher open family communication scale scores than problem family communication.

Bivariate relationships showed that:
  • open family communication was negatively associated to PTSD symptom severity
  • the number of lifetime stressful events and problem family communication was positively associated to PTSD symptom severity
  • integrated family storytelling style was negatively associated to avoidance symptoms
However, in the full regression model only the number of life events and problem family communication appeared to have an independent effect on PTSD symptom severity scores.

Testing for potential moderation effects of family communication found no interaction terms significant in this sample.

Implications and directions for future research are discussed, including the importance of reducing problem family communication in order for the protective effects of open family communication to flourish and the potential benefits of PTSD screening in schools.

Dissertation Dedication

This dissertation is dedicated to:  
• My mother, Maria Irene Acuña Cardona, from Chihuahua, Mexico, who taught me the value of frank communication.
• My daughter, Paolina Irene Acuña-González, for trusting my efforts to engage her in open communication and making breakfast so I could write.
• All my family and friends for their love and faith in me.
• All my mentors and students for their guidance and support.
• All urban adolescents and their families for their struggle and heart.
¡Ajúa, we did it, and thank you, Yesus!

PhD Status

I am official.  

Passed dissertation defense. Check.
Revisions completed and approved. Check.
Dissertation uploaded on ProQuest in proper UCLA formatting. Check.
Committee members signed off on my dissertation and revisions. Check.
Dissertation filed before interim deadline of January 5. Check.

Now I can say it without any reservations, I am Dr. Alejandra Acuña.  Hello, world.

Latinos! Latinos! Latinos!

"Currently in the United States, there are 47.8 million Latinos/as (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). 

Latino/as are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, and by the year 2050, it is estimated that approximately one out of every four people in the United States will be Latino/a (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).

By sheer numbers alone, the Latino/a population should be a focus as both recipients and providers of psychological services

However, in addition to the numerical imperative, U.S. Latino/as disproportionately face issues such as poverty, mental and physical health challenges, high dropout rates from school, and persistent racism and discrimination."

Chavez-Korell, S., Delgado-Romero, E.A, & Illes, R. (2012). The National Latina/o
Psychological Association: Like a Phoenix Rising. The Counseling Psychologist
40(5), 675-684.