Childhood Trauma and Self Compassion

October 12, 2023
By: Grace-Divine Boutouli, Emmy Reilly, and Megan Gunnar

In addition to Emmy Reilly’s dissertation goals in the Loving-Kindness Meditation research study, one of Emmy’s undergraduate research assistant, Grace Boutouli, wanted to see if the meditation might be especially effective for parents who had experienced trauma during their childhood. Grace asked parents in Emmy’s dissertation study to also complete the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. This questionnaire asked about potentially traumatic events prior to age 18 years, such as death of a parent, parental divorce or separation, being seriously ill or having a serious accident, experiencing abuse, witnessing violence, and so on. Most of the parents in the study had experienced few such events in their childhood but some had experienced more. Grace did not find that this influenced the extent to which the loving-kindness meditation affected parenting. What she did find was that parents who reported more traumatic experiences in childhood also scored lower on self-compassion. Grace had the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands to present the poster of her study at the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology.

Institute of Child Development students attended the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology annual conference where they presented their research work. Students pictured here are enjoying dinner in downtown Utretch. (Left to right: Grace-Divine Boutouli, Dr. Kalse Koss (University of Georgia, former post-doctoral fellow in the Gunnar Lab), Maya Bowen, Finola Kane-Grade, Dr. Megan Gunnar (University of MN), Lydia Lewis, and Tralucia Powell).