Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 645–653 | Cite as

Self-Compassion in Recovery Following Potentially Traumatic Stress: Longitudinal Study of At-Risk Youth

  • Mordechai Zeller
  • Kim Yuval
  • Yaara Nitzan-Assayag
  • Amit Bernstein


Despite promising theory, empirical study of the putative protective properties of self-compassion (SC) with respect to resilience to and recovery from traumatic stress is limited. The present study tested the theorized protective role(s) of SC with respect to trauma-related psychopathology over time among an at-risk sample of adolescents (N = 64, 26 % females, M(SD) age  = 17.5(1.07) years-old, range age  = 15–19; grades 9–12) directly exposed to a potentially traumatic stressful event – the Mount Carmel Forest Fire Disaster. The longitudinal design involved three assessment time-points – within 30-days of the potentially traumatic event (T1) and then at 3- (T2) and 6-months (T3) follow-up intervals. Consistent with prediction, multi-level modeling of mediation documented the prospective protective function(s) of SC, above and beyond dispositional mindfulness, with respect to posttraumatic stress and panic symptoms, depressive symptoms, and suicidality symptoms, but not well-being. The findings are discussed, theoretically, with respect to SC as a malleable protective factor for trauma-related psychopathology outcomes; and, clinically, with respect to SC as a target for future trauma-related selective-prevention and -early intervention research.


Adolescents Compassion Developmental psychopathology Longitudinal Protective factor Self-compassion Stress Trauma Risk factor Youth 



Dr. Bernstein recognizes the funding support from the Israeli Council for Higher Education Yigal Alon Fellowship, the European Union FP-7 Marie Curie Fellowship International Reintegration Grant, Psychology Beyond Borders Mission Award, Israel Science Foundation, the University of Haifa Research Authority Exploratory Grant, and the Rothschild-Caesarea Foundation’s Returning Scientists Project at the University of Haifa. Mr. Zvielli recognizes the support from the University of Haifa President’s Doctoral Fellowship Program.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mordechai Zeller
    • 1
  • Kim Yuval
    • 1
  • Yaara Nitzan-Assayag
    • 1
  • Amit Bernstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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