Methods: This was a small-randomized controlled trial that examined the impact of a 6-week meditation curriculum in a sample of 40 female trauma survivors who had PTSD diagnoses. Clients were residents at Amethyst, Inc., which is a substance abuse treatment program for homeless women. Participating clients were randomly assigned to the intervention group (20) and the control group (20). Treatment conditions consisted of a six-week meditation curriculum devoted to Breathing Meditation, Lovingkindness Meditation, and Compassion Meditation. The meditation class met twice every day for one hour, five days a week for six weeks. The study hypothesized that meditation would lead to a decrease in PTSD symptoms (Modified PTSD Symptom Scale, MPSS), increase in positive emotions (The Intensity and Time Affect Survey, ITAS), and increase in emotional regulation abilities (Structured Interview for Disorders of Extreme Distress, SIDES).
Results: Findings of repeated measures of ANOVA indicated that there were significant Time × Group interaction effects in MPSS Total Score [F (1, 25 ) =4.73, p = .039], MPSS Avoidance Subscale [F (1, 25) =4.12, p = .05], and MPSS Hyperarousal Subscale [F (1, 25) =5.68, p = .025]; ITAS Positive Emotion Score [F (1,29 ) =6.11, p = .020], ITAS Joy Subscale [F (1, 29) =10.12, p = .003]; and SIDES Disorders of affect regulation Subscale [F (1,30 ) =6.29, p = .018] (Table 3). Positive changes in the intervention group from pre-treatment to post-treatment were significantly greater than the changes observed in the control group.
Implications: While the intervention will need to be tested in a large-scale effectiveness study, this meditation curriculum has the potential to provide a strengths-based and empowering method of treatment for trauma survivors. By training clients to attend to the present, enhancing clients' ability to stay physiologically calm, and increasing positive emotions, meditation practice allows clients to unfold their internal and personal resources to address the problems of trauma. In terms of service provision, meditation provides a low-cost, non-intrusive, sustainable, and convenient intervention for helping trauma survivors in their recovery process.