Adverse Childhood Experiences, Dissociation, and Alexithymia as Predictors of Health-Related Quality of Life
October 21, 2023
Arising from a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental triggers, autoimmune diseases are a group of chronic disorders in which the body’s immune system cannot differentiate between the body and a foreign invader. Environmental triggers (e.g., infections, surgeries, and adverse life events) activate and/or exacerbate the disease, leading the immune system to begin attacking the body, which causes a multitude of complications and symptoms including inflammation of the organs and joints, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue (Luiz et al., 2018). Because research has predominantly focused on genetic and biological aspects of autoimmune disorders, less is known about how psychological factors may influence the onset and trajectory of autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, few studies have examined a holistic understanding of the health-related quality of life among individuals with autoimmune diseases.
Potential to Distress:
At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:
- Recognize the unique mental health needs, challenges, and concerns that are specific to individuals with autoimmune disorders who have a history of childhood trauma and adversity.
- Describe underlying biological and psychological mechanisms that potentially mediate the associations between adverse child experiences, dissociative symptoms, and alexithymia.
- Discuss the results of the quantitative research study highlighting the connections between adverse childhood experiences, dissociative symptoms, alexithymia, and health-related quality of life among individuals with autoimmune disorders.
- Identify demographic and disease-related variables that moderate the relationships between adverse childhood experiences, dissociative symptoms, alexithymia, and health-related quality of life among individuals with autoimmune disorders.
- Apply research results to inform a more comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to the treatment that incorporates trauma-informed psychotherapy addressing emotional expression, autonomic nervous system regulation, and biofeedback.
Presenter: Mary Plisco PhD
Presenter Bio: Mary Plisco, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, maintaining a diverse practice of psychotherapy, training, and consulting for the treatment of anxiety and stress-related disorders. Mary serves as the Director of Research and a Professor of Counseling at Richmont Graduate University, where she teaches, supervises, and mentors graduate students in a CACREP-accredited mental health counseling program. Mary has over 30 publications in peer-reviewed journals and over 40 presentations at national and international mental health conferences. Mary received her MS and PhD degrees from the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florida, graduating in 2009. She completed her APA-approved internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University. She is a graduate of the International OCD foundation’s Behavior Therapy Training Institute.
Presenter: Valerie Johnson, BS
Presenter Bio: Valerie K. Johnson received her BS in Psychology from Kennesaw State University in 2021. She is currently a master’s student earning her MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Richmont Graduate University in Atlanta, Georgia. In her time at Richmont Graduate University, she has developed a passion for research, specifically in trauma and dissociation and how this can impact the development of immunological conditions. Valerie is currently completing a thesis titled “Adverse Childhood Experiences, Dissociation, and Alexithymia as Predictors of Health-Related Quality of Life in Individuals with Autoimmune Disease.” Valerie is also currently a member of the International Association for Resilience and Trauma Counseling Chapter of the American Counseling Association. She expects to graduate in 2025 and become a licensed professional counselor who will primarily work with trauma and chronic illness survivors.
Participants attending this session in full will receive 1.5 continuing education credits.
- 1.50 APAThe International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
- 1.50 ASWB ACEThe International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), #1744, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. ISSTD maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 08/20/2021 – 08/20/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 1.50 continuing education credits.
- 1.50 ISSTD Certificate ProgramThis program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.