Abstract: The Impact of Mediation on Female Trauma Survivors' Feelings of Empowerment: A Qualitative Study (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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674P The Impact of Mediation on Female Trauma Survivors' Feelings of Empowerment: A Qualitative Study

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Jaclyn Kirsch, MSW, PhD Candidate, The Ohio State University
Mo Yee Lee, PhD, Professor, PhD Program Director, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Background and Purpose: Female trauma survivors are at an increased risk to suffer from co-occurring substance us and mental health disorders and sustain long-lasting psychological impacts stemming from their trauma experiences. However, feelings of empowerment are found to decrease anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as decrease use of substances in female survivors. Empowerment-based mental health treatment acknowledges individuals’ lived experience as well as their social and cultural context . In addition, empowerment-based treatment supports the individual’s own self-determination in setting goals in treatment. Meditation empowers those in treatment to use their own internal strengths to overcome their past experiences of trauma and increase feelings of self-efficacy. Meditation can be seen as a specific skill individuals can learn and use on their own without the assistance of others, increasing their own ability to help themselves. Rather than requiring individuals to talk through difficult life experiences that they may have had, meditation allows them to go through this process internally and use these inherit strengths they possess to bring clarity and understanding to their unique experiences

Methods: This qualitative study used data from interviews with 32 female trauma survivors with co-occurring mental health and substance use diagnoses who had participated in a 6-week long meditation intervention during their residential treatment program. The intervention included the study and practice of breathing, loving kindness, and compassion meditation. Grounded theory approaches and a constant comparison approach were used to analyze the data with multiple rounds of coding. All coding was completed from an empowerment and strengths perspective. Initial line by line coding was first completed to center the voices of participants within coding. Next, axial coding was done to connect initial codes together and begin to understand data patterns. Finally, overarching themes were created by connecting axial themes to each other. Two research team members participated in the data analysis process and discussed codes and themes until consensus was reached.

Results: Five major themes were found regarding the impact of meditation on the women’s feelings of empowerment: (1) positive feelings toward self; (2) increased empathy towards self and others; (3) increased awareness of own feelings and emotions resulting in ability to emotionally regulate; (4) gained skills to self-nurture leading to increased ability to overcome symptoms independently; (5) pride in self for being able to overcome difficulties in meditation; and (6) an empowered community: empowerment beyond an individual perspective.

Conclusions and Implications: The results of this qualitative study show the positive impact that a meditation intervention may have on female trauma survivors’ personal feelings of empowerment. Meditation helped survivors increase internal feelings of control and the ability to overcome their trauma and symptoms internally. Future research should examine the mechanisms of change of meditation via empowerment on mental health outcomes of female trauma survivors and expand this intervention into alternative populations to determine the impact of meditation on empowerment in other settings.