Research-based Recovery Information*
for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse and Adversity


For Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma and Loss

The internet is replete with information on self-help strategies. A number of these I have linked to from other areas of this site. On this page what I hope to include are some of those "ad hoc" resources not organised into separate pages on other sites, but information that is relevant to the problems experienced by adult survivors of childhood trauma. In particular, infomation relating to:

Numerous pages on this site are "canned" -- in a form that is not likely to change or be added to regularly over time. This page IS intended to change and be added to on a regular basis, so come back and visit often, and give me some feedback on what you think of the materials included. But, for now, it is in its earliest stages, so please be patient. Many of the strtegies and techniques I'll be recommending are based on Mindfulness and Acceptance principles, and so readers should look at my favourite sites in these related areas:

Psychologist Dr Rick Hanson's website --

               -- See Dr Hanson's Psychotherapy Networker video here -- [LINK]

                         -- Explore the free resources on Dr Hanson's site -- [LINK] -- a favourite!

Storied Mind - website and blog - Living with Depression - [LINK]

My Introduction to Mindfulness page has links to articles discussing what mechanisms may be involved in the effects of Mindfulness practice. Emotion regulation is one of the proposed mechanisms, as is Psychological Flexibility, amongst others. [LINK]. Interestingly, there is some evidence that Self-Compassion is more important than Mindfulness per se in determining symptom severity in cases of mixed anxiety and depression, as are commonly experienced by survivors of childhood trauma. van Dam et al (2011) -- [LINK] -- read article (.doc) [LINK] This study was conducted in the research lab of John Forsyth, a prominent Acceptance and Commitment Therapy researcher and clinical professor.

The three components of self-compassion are mindfulness, kindness to one's self (as opposed to self-judgment), and feeling part of a common humanity (as opposed to isolation).

Dr. Forsyth's lab analyzed some of the data they've been collecting from 504 people to look at what processes may be most important to anxiety and depression. They used Neff's Self-Compassion Scale (SCS; Neff, 2003) and--for their measure of mindfulness--the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003). The articles uses some very precise statistical terms that I'll try to translate for a more general audience, but please bear in mind that my descriptions below lose some of the nuance of the original.

Interestingly, self-compassion was a much better measure than mindfulness in accounting for problems with anxiety, depression, and overall quality of life. The SCS has several subscales: the most important one for anxiety and depression was the self-judgment subscale. Greater self-judgment showed a comparatively larger relationship with greater anxiety and depression. What this means is that the SCS appears to be a better predictor than the MAAS in measuring treatment outcomes for people with anxiety and depression. It also suggests that awareness of thoughts and emotions may be less important than how one relates to them (the central thesis of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). What this means is that self-compassion may be a particularly important component in mindfulness-based treatments, and that it is a useful predictor of psychological health.

A caveat to these findings is that the MAAS is only one of several mindfulness measures. Some of the other mindfulness measures such as the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) measure 4-5 aspects of mindfulness whereas the MAAS measures one. What it does suggest, though, is that self-compassion, as it is measured by the SCS, may be an extremely important construct in measuring treatment outcome for mindfulness-based therapies. This study contributes to a growing body of literature suggesting the importance of self-compassion as a construct.