Relationship of service members' deployment trauma, PTSD symptoms, and experiential avoidance to postdeployment family reengagement

Callie Brockman, James Snyder, Abigail Gewirtz, Suzanne R. Gird, Jamie Quattlebaum, Nicole Schmidt, Michael R. Pauldine, Katie Elish, Lynn Schrepferman, Charles Hayes, Robert Zettle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research examined whether military service members' deployment-related trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and experiential avoidance are associated with their observed levels of positive social engagement, social withdrawal, reactivity-coercion, and distress avoidance during postdeployment family interaction. Self reports of deployment related trauma, postdeployment PTSD symptoms, and experiential avoidance were collected from 184 men who were deployed to the Middle East conflicts, were partnered, and had a child between 4 and 13 years of age. Video samples of parent- child and partner problem solving and conversations about deployment issues were collected, and were rated by trained observers to assess service members' positive engagement, social withdrawal, reactivity-coercion, and distress avoidance, as well as spouse and child negative affect and behavior. Service members' experiential avoidance was reliably associated with less observed positive engagement and more observed withdrawal and distress avoidance after controlling for spouse and child negative affect and behavior during ongoing interaction. Service members' experiential avoidance also diminished significant associations between service members' PTSD symptoms and their observed behavior. The results are discussed in terms of how service members' psychological acceptance promotes family resilience and adaption to the multiple contextual challenges and role transitions associated with military deployment. Implications for parenting and marital interventions are described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-62
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Keywords

  • Experiential avoidance
  • Family interaction
  • Military deployment
  • PTSD
  • Trauma

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