Date: 20 Jul 2011

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

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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.

Lisa C. Vettese was affiliated to Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada at the time the paper was done.