The relationship of trauma to differentiation levels, schemas and family environments: A study of trauma patients and their families
The relationship of trauma to cognitive schemas, differentiation of self, perceptions of family environments, psychological symptoms of trauma victims and family members, and mechanisms for the transfer of schemas and symptoms within families was investigated. Participants in this study were hospitalized in a trauma program, ranged in age from 20 to 60 years of age, and were 77% white and 80% female. Participants completed a demographic form, the Young Schema Questionnaire (YSQ; Young, 1999), the Differentiation of Self Inventory (DSI; Skowron & Friedlander, 1998), the Family Environment Scale (FES; Moos & Moos, 1994), and the Symptom Checklist-90 Revised (SCL-90R; Derogatis, 1975). These measures were administered three times to each participant across a six-month interval. Participant's Global Distress Scale means on the SCL90-R were significantly higher than SCL-90R non-patient norms, and SCL-90R inpatient norms and these means decreased on the second and third administrations. Participants who held more maladaptive schemas and experience more psychological distress were less differentiated than participants who held fewer maladaptive schemas and experienced less psychological distress. The I-Position subscale on the DSI was the most important in predicting global distress and number of maladaptive schemas in participants, and the Organization subscale on the FES was the only subscale that decreased from the first to the second administration at one month post-treatment and increased from the second to the third administration at six months post-treatment. A discussion of the results, including implications for theory, research, and practice, is included.