Children Receiving Services at a Community Child Advocacy Center: A Mixed-Method Examination of Early Maladaptive Schemas and Coping Responses

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Children Receiving Services at a Community Child Advocacy Center: A Mixed-Method Examination of Early Maladaptive Schemas and Coping Responses

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2022-05

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Schemas are core emotional and cognitive themes regarding oneself and one’s environment. Early maladaptive schemas (EMS) are themes originating from childhood and are associated with unmet emotional needs and adverse experiences, such as those that occur in caregiver-child relationships. EMS are maintained throughout life by unhelpful coping responses. However, it is unclear when children develop EMS and how the relationship between EMS and coping responses presents in children. Objective: The present study examined: (1) the prevalence of EMS and coping responses in children who have experienced maltreatment, (2) the relationship between EMS and coping responses, (3) how qualitative data compare to previous theoretical structures found in quantitative studies, and (4) how personal factors (e.g., age, gender) and abuse factors (e.g., frequency, type) are related to EMS and coping responses. Participants: Data were collected in collaboration with a child advocacy center through forensic interviews in which a child reported primary and/or secondary abuse. Measures: EMS were assessed using the Dusseldorf Illustrated Schema Questionnaire for Children (excluding illustrations). Coping responses were assessed using the COPE Inventory. Information about individual and abuse factors were gathered from case reports. Procedure: Staff at the child advocacy center completed the measures based on information obtained during forensic interviews. Results: All EMS were present in this sample. Excessive responsibility/standards was positively associated with self-sufficient coping and negatively associated with avoidant coping. Children of color, older children, and children who experienced multiple forms of abuse also reported higher levels of disconnection/rejection. Children who reported multiple forms of abuse also reported higher levels of impaired autonomy/performance. Conclusion: Early interventions should address EMS and reinforce more helpful coping responses for children with such adverse experiences.

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A Plan B Research Project submitted to the faculty of University of Minnesota, Duluth by Linda Zheng in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychological Sciences, May 2022.

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Zheng, Linda. (2022). Children Receiving Services at a Community Child Advocacy Center: A Mixed-Method Examination of Early Maladaptive Schemas and Coping Responses. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/227744.

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