Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Trauma
In line with the thousands of studies now available supporting the use of mindfulness-based interventions in depression, anxiety, chronic pain and addictions (via emotion regulation and interoception), this post will review recommended mindfulness interventions for trauma and PTSD. The post will note information from two recent books on this topic. Also recognize that meta-analytic research in 2004, 2010, and 2014 have found that mindfulness-based interventions improve depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and emotion regulation. These are common conditions co-occurring with addictions and trauma. Such interventions may be carried out as part of various Western therapies: cognitive, behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, dialectical-behavioral, and even psychodynamic.
Follette, Briere and others (2015, 2018) note the many benefits of using mindfulness-based skills as part of trauma therapy. Here is their summary. Mindfulness interventions when implemented by a mindfulness practitioner:
- Improves compassion, self-compassion, and radical acceptance;
- Improves the negative effects of deprivation, oppression, loss, and harm;
- Enhance contemplative responses;
- Integrates trauma-informed care with yoga and meditation;
- Clarifies emotion mind from reasonable mind;
- Empowers personal embodiment and being with one’s conditions;
- Expands loving kindness;
- Enables effective use of RAIN skills;
- Softens harsh, self-critical views of self;
- Reduces over-identification with traumatic experiences;
- Softens anger and blame;
- Brings people to the present – leaving “stuckness” in the past;
- Reduces apprehensions about the future;
- Strengthens meta-cognitive awareness of thoughts and images as triggers;
- Improved emotion regulation – less reactivity and impulsivity;
- Teaches breathing retraining for vagal and para-sympathetic activation;
- Teaches thoughts and emotions are only thoughts and emotions – not the self;
- Improves one’s sense of well-being and happiness; and,
- Often enhances self-esteem and empowerment.
Davis (2016) adds the following mindfulness-based effects:
- Improves balance in mind-body-heart (soul;);
- Empowers better stress reduction practices;
- Reduces the personal struggle to control cognitions, emotions, and behaviors;
- Enhances one’s observational capacities to just be present and “see” via mindful abiding;
- Allows people to recognize experience and life as pleasant, neutral/boring, and unpleasant as norms; and,
- Enhances the ability to be grounded when triggered.
For more information refer to Follette, V. M. , Briere, J. et.al. (2015, 2018). Mindfulness-Oriented Interventions for Trauma: Integrating Contemplative Practices. New York: Guilford Publications. See also Davis, L. (2016). Meditations for Healing Trauma. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont and the Home of The Monkton Sangha
Author of Mindful Happiness