Mindfulness and self-compassion for dealing with trauma


A recent survey by the World Health Organization indicated that 70% of the population experience some level of trauma exposure. Past trauma exposure increases the likelihood of developing other mental health disorders, somatic disorders, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Even more troubling, exposure to trauma increases the risk of future trauma. Given the high prevalence rate in the community, there is a pressing need to develop trauma-sensitive interventions that address trauma-related symptoms. 

The Study

One study conducted in Norway recruited seventeen participants who presented with trauma-related symptoms such as PTSD, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative symptoms, and self-critique. These participants joined a 16 week trauma-sensitive mindfulness and compassion intervention to learn contemplative techniques that could help them uniquely manage their trauma. In addition to self-reported questionnaires, participants also were involved with qualitative interviews that addressed their experience. 


The study learned that the participants had a significant decrease in PTSD, complex PTSD, dissociative symptoms, and self-hatred. Importantly, participants reported adverse experiences, or unintentional negative effects, however, these symptoms had no lasting effects. These results highlight that trauma-sensitive interventions could be combined with mindfulness and self-compassion interventions to address the unique presenting clinical problems of those who experienced trauma. Although there were adverse effects, future research has the opportunity to fine tune these interventions to better understand how to mitigate such risks. Compassion and mindfulness might be a valuable tool in therapy to help the majority of the population who face similar symptoms. 

Read the full results here. 

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