Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Jennifer Veilleux

Committee Member

Lindsay Ham

Second Committee Member

Ana Bridges

Third Committee Member

Scott Eidelman


Emotion;Emotion Dysregulation;Posttraumatic Stress;Substance Use


Prior research has examined components of emotional functioning (e.g., clarity, physiological sensations, expression, regulation) among people with substance use and/or posttraumatic stress at the group level; however, a more cohesive/comprehensive understanding of how these factors unfold and connect for individual people who comprise these populations is needed. The current study used a qualitative interview design to explore the emotional worlds of participants (N = 44) who comprised four groups (substance use [n ¬= 11], posttraumatic stress [n = 12], co-occurring substance use and posttraumatic stress [n = 11], and healthy controls [n = 10]) to gain a person-level understanding of these processes. A semi-structured interview based on the Idiographic Model of Affective Processing (I-MAP; Veilleux et al., 2020), which elicited discussion of two specific personal emotional events, general emotional experiences/tendencies, learning history around emotion, and beliefs about emotions was conducted with each participant. Conventional content analysis was used to identify three emergent themes: (1) Internal Emotional Experience, (2) Observable Emotional Experience, and (3) Emotion Socialization. Findings revealed the substance use difficulties group seemed generally less aware of and less connected to their emotional experiences, the posttraumatic stress difficulties group seemed to have more intense emotional experiences, and the co-occurring difficulties group seemed to have more difficulty with emotional expression, more negative beliefs about emotions, and poorer experiences with emotion socialization compared to the other groups. This study connected rich and complex real-life emotional experiences to extant group-level findings and identified similarities and differences between- and within-groups regarding emotional functioning for people with substance use and/or posttraumatic stress difficulties. This study will aid in the development of a modular transdiagnostic treatment for emotional difficulties geared toward people who struggle with these afflictions.