Emotional Schema Therapy Improves Emotion Regulation in Individuals with a History of Child Abuse and Neglect
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Research conducted over the past decade indicates that difficulties in emotion regulation are more prevalent among those who have been abused than in individuals with no such experiences. Emotional Schema Therapy (EST), which is an integration of cognitive and metacognitive models as well as acceptance-based approaches, specifically targets content of beliefs about emotions and dysfunctional coping strategies to deal with difficult emotions. This study provides an initial evaluation of the efficacy of EST in addressing difficulties in six dimensions of emotion regulation in women with a history of child abuse or neglect. The statistical population consisted of all female residents of Isfahan, Iran, aged above 18 years. Five hundred volunteer women responded to a Child Abuse and Neglect questionnaire. Individuals who had higher scores on this questionnaire were invited to participate in the research project. Thirty volunteer participants were randomly assigned into experimental and control groups (n1 = n2 = 15). The intervention was a 15-session group therapy consisting of cognitive, behavioral, experiential, and mindfulness techniques. Participants completed the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) 2 weeks before and after the treatment and at 2 months follow-up. The same assessments were conducted with the control group. Data were analyzed by Mann-Whitney U Test, Friedman Test, and Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test. Results showed that EST significantly improved acceptance of emotional responses, goal-directed behaviors, impulse control, and adaptive emotion regulation strategies in both post-test and follow-up assessments in the experimental group. In contrast, the control group did not have any significant changes on these variables. Significant changes were not detected for lack of emotional awareness and lack of emotional clarity in both groups. These findings indicate that EST is a potential effective treatment to improve aspects of emotion regulation in women with a history of child abuse and neglect.
KeywordsChild abuse and neglect Emotional Schema Therapy Difficulties in emotion regulation
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