|| Trauma Assessment Treatment Track
Self-Compassion for Trauma Survivors
Presented by Shedeh Tavakoli, LCPC, CCMHC, ACS, CRC
Research has demonstrated the benefits of including self-compassion-based treatment for counseling survivors of trauma (Boykin, et. al., 2018). However, there are unique challenges that compromise the effectiveness of these interventions for survivors of childhood trauma. According to research, psychological inflexibility increases the negative effects of fear of self-compassion. Perceived danger leads to experience of arousal, avoidance, or intrusions. These three categories correspond to the stress response of fight, flight, or freeze as well as our reactions to the experienced internal stress: self-criticism, self-isolation, and self-absorption. According to Neff & McGeehee (2010) individuals who lack self-compassion tend to have insecure attachment patterns, have critical caregivers, and come from dysfunctional families. Treatment of childhood trauma is enhanced when incorporating self-compassion-based treatment interventions to aid emotion regulation, processing, and responding to triggers. While lack of self-compassion and fear of self-compassion are two separate constructs, for the most therapeutic benefit, it is critical they are both addressed in therapy. Fear of self-compassion has been found to correlate with long-term functional impairments and increase the survivor’s likelihood of mistreatment of their own children. This may be manifested in becoming emotionally unavailable or neglectful of their children in ways that resemble their own childhood experiences. Therefore, it is important to find ways to facilitate self-compassion and stop the intergenerational engagement in childhood maltreatment. Incorpporating attachment, relational, and neuroscience-based interventions can facilitate the development of self-compassion and diminish the cycle of childhood maltreatment.