Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Valentiner, David P.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects 6-17% of college students in the United States, which can negatively impact academic achievement and is associated with other emotional difficulties. Exposure therapy, including written exposure therapy as been found to be efficacious for treating. However, concerns of treatment dropout and low symptom improvement are barriers to treatment success. Experiential avoidance in treatment has been problematic and may influence outcomes. The current study sought to reduce the use of experiential avoidance in exposure sessions through the promotion of self-compassion, an extension of kindness, humanity and mindfulness to the self. Furthermore, the current study also examined the impact of self-compassion induction on self-reported PTSD symptoms. The study recruited introductory psychology students who had PTSD symptoms following exposure to a traumatic event and randomly assigned these participants to two groups: an exposure-with-self-compassion component group and an exposure-only group. Using PROCESS mediation analysis, the main findings indicated that the self-compassion intervention was not effective in increasing state self-compassion and was not associated with any notable changes in state experiential avoidance. However, both conditions showed improvement in PTSD symptoms, providing support for written exposure treatment.


133 pages




Northern Illinois University

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