It is estimated that over a quarter of adult women in the U.S. were victims of childhood sexual abuse. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are common in these survivors and a number of different kinds of therapies are used to treat them. Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine looked into the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in treating these women. Mindfulness has been described as 'moment-to-moment, non-judgmental attention and awareness actively cultivated and developed through meditation.' As well as meditation MBSR also includes course material that dwells on the impermanent and changeable nature of thoughts and judgments in a way influenced by CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy). The researchers studied 27 adult abuse survivors who took an eight-week MBSR programme with daily home practice. The participants also had three refresher courses over a follow-up period of 24 weeks. The study found that after eight weeks depressive symptoms had reduced by 65%. There were statistically-significant improvements in all the measures used by the study, improvements which were sustained over 24 weeks. Symptoms of avoidance and numbing were greatly reduced among people who had PTSD. The intervention was safe and acceptable to the participants and compliance to home practice and class attendance was good.
Kimbrough, Elizabeth ... [et al] - Mindfulness intervention for child abuse survivors Journal of Clinical Psychology January 2010, 66(1), 17-33