Thesis

The Impact of Childhood Adverse Experiences on Adult Mental Health Outcomes and the Effectiveness of Mindfulness in Comparison to More Structured Interventions in Treating Adult Survivors

Research has shown that the first years of childhood are crucial in the psychological development of children, and traumatic events such as sexual, physical and emotional abuse interrupt children’s psychological development and negatively impact their intellectual, behavioral, and social-emotional development. Additionally, it increases the risk of substance abuse and suicide ideation in adults. This research project includes two systematic reviews of the literature. The first review analyzed mental health outcomes resulting from adverse childhood experiences by addressing the following research questions: 1) What are the long-term psychological health outcomes developed among adults who had adverse childhood experiences? The second review analyzed the effectiveness of mindfulness in comparison to more structured interventions EMDR, CBT, and CBP in treating the impact of ACEs among adult survivors. The review consisted of 49 peer-reviewed studies from 2007-2017. It included a mixture of longitudinal studies, cross-sectional studies, meta-analysis studies, mixed method design studies. All studies demonstrated that ACEs led to mental illness in adulthood. Childhood unresolved issues were expressed within depressive symptoms, anxiety disorders or substance abuse disorders. Results indicate new frameworks are needed to treat the impact of ACEs. It is recommended the field of social work continue to research the impact of Aces and develop effective interventions. Keywords: “Childhood adversity”, “Mental health”, “Emotional abuse”, “Emotion regulation”, “Resilience”, “Psychological development”, “Sexual abuse”.

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