Publication date: July 2019
Source: Behaviour Research and Therapy, Volume 118
Author(s): Saul A. Castro, Frank J. Infurna, Kathryn Lemery-Chalfant, Vincent Waldron, Eva Zautra
One pathway linking experiences of childhood trauma to poorer mental and physical health in midlife are disruptions in daily socio-emotional regulation. However, there is a dearth of effective and accessible treatments that meet the needs of trauma-exposed individuals and their communities. Through a randomized controlled trial, this research examines whether an online social intelligence training (SIT) program improves social-emotional regulation compared to an attention-control (AC) condition. During the pre- and post-test phases of the study, participants (N = 230) completed online surveys for 14-days that included measures of social connectedness, emotional awareness, and perspective-taking. In the SIT condition, multi-level analyses revealed significant increases in daily levels of “in-tune” social interactions, emotional awareness, and perspective-taking, and attenuated within-person changes in social engagement on stressful and uplifting days. Participants who reported greater childhood trauma exhibited the strongest increases in daily social engagement and emotional awareness, suggesting that program benefits were largest for those reporting greater exposure to trauma in childhood. Our findings shed light on the potential reversibility of socio-emotional mechanisms linking childhood trauma to poorer mental and physical health in midlife, and support the utility of widely accessible, low-cost intervention methods for individuals and communities.