Does Self-Compassion Mitigate the Association Between Childhood Maltreatment and Later Emotion Regulation Difficulties? A Preliminary Investigation

  • Lisa C. Vettese
  • Catherine E. Dyer
  • Wing Ling Li
  • Christine Wekerle

DOI: 10.1007/s11469-011-9340-7

Cite this article as:
Vettese, L.C., Dyer, C.E., Li, W.L. et al. Int J Ment Health Addiction (2011) 9: 480. doi:10.1007/s11469-011-9340-7


Child maltreatment-related outcomes range from no symptom expression to suicide. Increasingly, the diverse presentations have been conceptualized as core system dysregulation, including emotion dysregulation. Self-compassion has been advanced as a self-regulation strategy for countering negative self-directed emotions. This study explored whether individual differences in self-compassion would play a role in loosening the associations among childhood maltreatment severity and later emotion regulation difficulties. The sample consisted of transition-age youth (N = 81) seeking treatment for problem substance use. Self-compassion was negatively associated with emotion regulation difficulties and childhood maltreatment, and predicted emotion dysregulation above and beyond maltreatment history, current severity of psychological distress, and problem substance use. In addition, self-compassion mediated the relationship between childhood maltreatment severity and later emotion dysregulation. These findings provide an impetus for further research into the relevance of self-compassion for maltreatment-related impairment.


Childhood maltreatmentEmotion regulationProblem substance useSelf-compassionTransition-age youth

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa C. Vettese
    • 4
  • Catherine E. Dyer
    • 1
  • Wing Ling Li
    • 2
  • Christine Wekerle
    • 3
  1. 1.Children’s Mental Health OntarioTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Center for Child DevelopmentHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon TongHong Kong
  3. 3.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  4. 4.Advance HealthTorontoCanada