Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Orcutt, Holly K.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Research suggests that abilities to moderate and process trauma-related emotions may predict symptoms of posttraumatic stress, with the overuse of maladaptive emotion regulation strategies presenting a potential vulnerability to experiencing difficulties following trauma exposure. Self-compassion has been associated with the acceptance of negative emotions, with research finding evidence for positive associations between self-compassion and adaptive emotion regulation. Additionally, research suggests an inverse relationship between self-compassion and symptoms of posttraumatic stress. Self-compassion has been conceptualized and studied as a skill that can be learned, with studies finding support for improved abilities following targeted interventions. However, more research is needed to establish the effectiveness of interventions that can be delivered in a brief format, and to determine whether increases in self-compassion lead to improvements in emotion regulation in individuals with exposure to trauma.

This study utilized an experimental design to examine whether a single session of self-compassion training was effective for improving self-compassion and decreasing difficulties in emotion regulation, compared to muscle-relaxation training, for undergraduates with trauma exposure (N = 85; 63.1% female) enrolled in an introduction to psychology course. Analyses included a series of within- and between- subjects repeated measures ANCOVAs in order to examine group differences in self-compassion and difficulties with emotion regulation. Additionally, a serial mediation model was used to examine changes in self-compassion and emotion regulation as mediators in the relationship between group and changes in negative affect. Results demonstrated associations among study variables in the expected directions but did not support study hypotheses regarding the experimental interventions. Limitations and future directions are discussed.


123 pages




Northern Illinois University

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