Conceptualizing mindfulness and acceptance as components of psychological resilience to trauma

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2011 Oct;12(4):220-35. doi: 10.1177/1524838011416375.


Mindfulness- and acceptance-based conceptualizations of PTSD implicate experiential avoidance and non-mindful behavior in the etiology and maintenance of the disorder. If experiential avoidance is associated with vulnerability to PTSD, then a mindful and accepting orientation toward experience may confer psychological resilience following exposure to trauma. This article examines how mindfulness- and acceptance-based theories of psychopathology relate to risk of and resilience to PTSD. Research is reviewed dealing with the impact of experiential avoidance, avoidant coping, dissociation, acceptance, and mindfulness on PTSD symptom severity and posttraumatic functioning. This review suggests that trait mindfulness and acceptance are associated with greater psychological adjustment following exposure to trauma, while experiential avoidance, persistent dissociation, and coping strategies involving emotional disengagement are associated with greater PTSD symptom severity and related psychopathology. Methodological challenges are explored and suggestions for future research and PTSD prevention programs are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Self Concept*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Social Identification
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Violence / psychology