Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Clinical/Counseling Psychology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Lewin, Michael R.


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the literature on the mental and physical health consequences of COVID-19 has expanded exponentially. Much of the published research has focused on the physical health and economic consequences of COVID-19. Research on the mental health effects of COVID-19 has primarily addressed the increase in anxiety and depression and related avoidance/safety behaviors surrounding COVID-19 (Taylor et al., 2020). Although there is an emerging literature on the COVID-19 mental health consequences, there is a paucity of research examining the processes of how people respond to COVID-19 stress and psychological well-being. Specifically, data examining potential psychological processes (i.e., psychological inflexibility) that are potential mechanisms for the relationship between COVID-19 stress and overall psychological well-being are limited. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to explore whether the processes of psychological inflexibility mediate the relationship between COVID-19 related stress and psychological well-being. We operationalized psychological inflexibility utilizing measures of cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance, commitment, and valued living. Participants were 137, primarily Latinx undergraduate students (60% female, 37% male, and 3% other) at a large Southwestern university. We hypothesized that the relationship between COVID-19 stress and psychological well-being would be indirect and mediated by psychological inflexibility. The hypothesis was supported utilizing an SPSS statistical macro program PROCESS (Hayes, 2013) for testing multiple mediation models. Results revealed that psychological inflexibility fully mediated the relationship between COVID-19 stress and psychological well-being. The full model accounted for a statistically significant amount of variance (R2 = .78, F (6, 145) = 87.83, p = .000), specifically, COVID-19 stress and psychological inflexibility accounted for 79% of the outcome variance. Additionally, there was a statistically significant total effect of COVID-19 stress (b=-.5450, p=.0000, 95% CI [-.7739, -.3161]) on psychological well-being. After accounting for the psychological inflexibility mediators, the direct effect of COVID-19 stress on psychological well-being was no longer statistically significant (b= -.0060, p= .9297, 95% CI [-.1397, .1277]). Based on the analyses, four variables of psychological inflexibility (experiential avoidance, committed action, values-progress, and values-obstruction) mediated the relationship between COVID-19 stress and psychological well-being. Clinical implications regarding psychological well-being in a global pandemic, limitations, and future directions of the research are discussed.