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Relations Among Self-Compassion, PTSD Symptoms, and Psychological Health in a Trauma-Exposed Sample

Abstract

Emerging literature on self-compassion suggests that establishing and maintaining a compassionate perspective toward oneself and one’s experiences may help buffer against the negative effects of trauma exposure, such as psychopathology and reduced quality of life. The goal of the current study was to examine relations among self-compassion, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity, and overall psychological health in a sample of trauma-exposed university students. Further, the current study explored these associations while controlling for a theoretically related construct, psychological inflexibility. Participants were 453 undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory psychology course at a large Midwestern University (M age = 19.75, SD = 3.07). A structural equation model (SEM) approach was used. Results indicated that a two-factor solution for the Self-Compassion Scale defined by subscale valence (i.e., positive and negative components) demonstrated improved fit over a single-factor model. The overall model demonstrated good fit: comparative fit index (CFI) = 0.96, Tucker-Lewis index (TLI) = 0.93, root-mean-square residual (RMSEA) = 0.08 (90 % confidence interval (CI) 0.07 to 0.09). The two observed factors of self-compassion emerged as strong predictors of variation in overall psychological health, even in the context of PTSD symptoms and psychological inflexibility. Additionally, the two self-compassion factors accounted for significant variance in psychological inflexibility, but not PTSD symptoms. Results demonstrate that increasing levels of self-compassion may represent an important area of intervention for trauma-exposed individuals.

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Correspondence to Antonia V. Seligowski.

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Seligowski, A.V., Miron, L.R. & Orcutt, H.K. Relations Among Self-Compassion, PTSD Symptoms, and Psychological Health in a Trauma-Exposed Sample. Mindfulness 6, 1033–1041 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0351-x

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Keywords

  • Self-compassion
  • Trauma
  • PTSD
  • Psychological inflexibility
  • Well-being
  • Psychological health