Exploring Self-compassion among Adults with Childhood Trauma and Perfectionism


December 2023

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The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to explore the lived experience of self-compassion among adults with childhood trauma and perfectionism. There are few qualitative studies focused on any combinations of childhood trauma, perfectionism, and self-compassion. Additionally, no studies have been conducted to specifically explore how adults with childhood trauma and perfectionism experience, and apply, self-compassion to their lives. Five adult participants who endorsed four or more items on the ACE-Q (Felitti et al., 1998) and scored 42 or higher on both the High Standards and Discrepancy subscales on the APS-R (Slaney et al., 2001) completed a demographic questionnaire and semi-structured interview, which were transcribed and analyzed for themes. Results of the thematic analysis identified five main themes: (a) relating to self, (b) nature of the process, (c) impact of ACEs, (d) learning through relationships, and (e) navigating expectations and standards. Six subthemes were included: (a) self-kindness, (b) hard on myself, (c) unfamiliarity, (d) still working on it, (e) internalized experiences, (f) disconnection, (g) connection and support, (h) different perspectives, (i) perfectionism as a coping mechanism, and (j) accepting limits.



Education, Guidance and Counseling