UK Network

Division of Clinical Psychology


Traumasensitive mindfulness and self-compassion – A programme developed for patients with complex trauma and dissociation

Presenter: – Malin Wästlund

Trauma-sensitive mindfulness and self-compassion group

Mindfulness and compassion has shown to have health benefits. The ability to be mindful and to care for oneself are two abilities that get impaired after trauma and it disturbs a person’s ability to use ones attention in a flexible way. A traumatized person is often hyper-vigilant, on guard and self-critical. Explicit focus on how to help patients acquire these capacities is often lacking. Traditional programs in mindfulness and self compassion are not trauma sensitive and therefore potentially overwhelming.

We thus argue that mindfulness and self-compassion need to be addressed explicitly in phase one treatment, and have created a trauma-sensitive manual to teach and practice these particular skills. Our goal has been to increase the patients’ ability to use their attention in a purposeful manner; to be “be present” and self accepting .

The group offers psycho-education, dialogues and guided meditations, hence provides the participants with understanding of how trauma affects their attention and self-compassion and why mindfulness and self-care are vital capacities to cultivate. Guided meditations are distributed on MP3 files, to support the participants in practicing at home.

Learning target: Participants will learn about the manual and explore mindfulness and self-compassion exercises.

Malin Wästlund is a senior psychotherapist specialized in trauma, working at a District Psychiatric centre in Notodden, Norway. She has background in sensorimotor psychotherapy, expressive art therapy, emdr, mindful self-compassion and other mindfulness-based methods. Together with psychology specialist Katinka T. Salvesen she has developed a manual (published in 2015) for practising mindfulness and self-compassion in traumasensitive way.