Clinical Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Adults with a History of Childhood Maltreatment: a Scoping Review

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Survivors of childhood maltreatment are at high risk for developing complex psychiatric disorders. Traditional treatments, including psychopharmacology, tend to be less efficacious for this population. This scoping review aimed to discuss existing empirical studies on the effects of mindfulness-based interventions for adult childhood trauma survivors, as well as the documented clinical challenges and adaptations for this population.

Recent Findings

We reviewed 17 research articles that measured the effects of mindfulness-based interventions for adults with childhood maltreatment histories. These studies showed that mindfulness-based interventions can be beneficial for childhood maltreatment survivors to alleviate psychological symptoms including stress, anxiety, recurrent depression, substance use, and post-traumatic stress. Studies had a wide range of methodological quality and reported a broad range of effect sizes. The wide variety of outcome measures and control conditions made it difficult to compare across studies.

Summary

Mindfulness-based interventions can be beneficial for addressing psychopathology among adults with childhood maltreatment histories, although some adaptations can be necessary to address possible challenges this population are likely to encounter. More research is needed to specifically evaluate the clinical effects among childhood maltreatment survivors and to directly compare the effects among those with and without childhood maltreatment histories.

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The first author was supported by NIH grant # 5K01AT009085.

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Correspondence to Diane Joss PhD.

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Diane Joss declares that there are no conflicts of interest. Martin H. Teicher declares that there are no conflicts of interest.

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Joss, D., Teicher, M.H. Clinical Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Adults with a History of Childhood Maltreatment: a Scoping Review. Curr Treat Options Psych 8, 31–46 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40501-021-00240-4

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Keywords

  • Early life stress
  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Mind-body interventions
  • Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR)
  • Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
  • Mindfulness based relapse prevention (MBRP)
  • Mindful self-compassion (MSC)
  • Trauma sensitive mindfulness