Relational Wellbeing Following Traumatic Interpersonal Events and Challenges to Core Beliefs

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Abstract

Objective: Prior research has found that the degree to which a traumatic event challenges core beliefs is associated with adjustment problems; however, how such experiences impact relational wellbeing has received little attention. The current study examined whether negative posttraumatic cognitions mediated the relation between examination of core beliefs and relational wellbeing in young adults following experiences of interpersonal trauma. Method: A moderated parallel mediation model investigated the relation between core beliefs and relational wellbeing through negative cognitions about the self, the world and others, self-blame, and depressive symptoms, following interpersonal violence (IPV; n = 168) and violent loss (VL; n = 102), with ego-resilience moderating the paths from examination of core beliefs to each mediator and relational wellbeing. Results: For individuals with IPV experiences, greater examination of core beliefs was associated with increased depressive symptoms and negative cognitions about the self and about the world and others, each of which was associated with decreased relational wellbeing. For those reporting VL and lower ego-resilience, only negative cognitions about the self emerged as a mediator. Self-blame did not emerge as a mediator whereas ego-resilience emerged as both promotive and protective. Conclusions: Results suggest distinct pathways to relational difficulties following IPV and VL. Following IPV, it was not the process of examining core beliefs that impacted relational functioning, but rather the conclusions drawn about the self, others, and the world. Findings suggest that targeting specific posttraumatic cognitions may enhance relational functioning and possible interventions for addressing such cognitions and fostering ego-resilience are presented.

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