Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Ellen W. Leen-Feldner

Committee Member

Matthew T. Feldner

Second Committee Member

Douglas Behrend


adolescent, alcohol, anxiety, cognitive reappraisal, conflict, mother


Nearly half of people suffering from psychopathology meet criteria for more than one disorder. Scholars have focused on understanding factors that may simultaneously maintain multiple psychiatric problems. Elevated distress during interpersonal conflict is likely to maintain both alcohol use and anxiety psychopathology. Reducing distress elicited by normative mother-adolescent conflict holds particular promise. Conflict is common in families with problematic drinking and anxiety disorders and the affective impact of parent-offspring conflict is malleable. Distress reduction skills, such as cognitive reappraisal, are effective in reducing distress during conflict. The current study examined the unique and combined effects of training mothers and adolescents in distress reduction techniques in terms of conflict-elicited maternal distress as well as multimodal assessment of subsequent maternal anxiety and alcohol use cravings. Fifty-nine mothers who endorsed alcohol use and elevated levels of anxious arousal and their adolescent offspring completed a baseline assessment, including a well-established, standardized, laboratory-based mother-offspring conflict task. Mother-adolescent dyads were randomly assigned to one of four groups, wherein both, one, or neither member of the dyad undergoes distress reduction training. Psychoeducation (focused on adolescent development) was used as a control condition. Contrary to hypotheses, distress reduction training was not related to changes in multimodal assessments of maternal anxiety and alcohol use cravings. Possible explanations for these findings as well as limitations and future directions are discussed.