There is considerable public and professional interest in complementary and alternative approaches, including meditation, for managing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but there is little empirical support to guide their use. Multiple meditatie techniques can be applied to the amelioration of this disorder, and the literature suggests that they operate by different mechanisms. Compassion meditation is a meditative practice focused on the wish that others and the self may be free of suffering. Because this particular form of meditation has been shown to elicit positive emotion and feelings of connection with other people, it is uniquely well suited to addressing PTSD, which is characterized by strong negative affect, deficits in positive emotion and social connectedness. Compassion meditation has not been evaluated for use with PTSD patients; therefore, the goal of this project is to refine an existing compassion meditation protocol for individuals with PTSD and to examine the safety and feasibility of this approach and to collect data to make initial estimates of efficacy. The proposed project will be completed in two phases. In phase one, the compassion meditation protocol will be executed with individuals with PTSD and iteratively refined based on therapist and participant feedback. In addition, a relaxation protocol that was used in a previous PTSD trial will be modified to match the length and format of the meditative practice. In phase two, we will complete a pilot study to examine the feasibility of conducting a randomized trial comparing these interventions and to provide information that will allow us to better design future projects. Ultimately, the research informed by this project may provide an additional option for treatment of PTSD, which would be an important contribution because existing treatment approaches are not universally acceptable or effective.
Although there are excellent empirically supported treatment approaches for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), none are universally acceptable or effective. As a result, there is considerable public and professional interest in complementary and alternative approaches, such as meditation, for the treatment of this disorder. Compassion meditation, which fosters changes that may be particularly likely to impact PTSD, has the potential to be an important addition to the repertoire of options for individuals facing recovery from exposure to traumatic events.