Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Patrick J. Aragon

Second Advisor

Vida L. Tyc

Third Advisor

Theodore G. Petersen

Fourth Advisor

Robert A. Taylor


Traditional trauma therapies used in the primary care setting (e.g., hospital, medical clinic, etc.) have posed challenges to patient success because they are not designed for the shorter duration treatment that is typical in primary care settings. One alternative solution is the Prolonged-Exposure for Primary Care protocol (PE-PC) that utilizes prolonged exposure using a brief take home assignment and several journaling prompts that are processed using principles from Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). Still in its early stages of development, the PE-PC protocol can provide symptom relief in as little as four, 30-minute sessions and reflects one of the first trauma therapies specific to the primary care setting. To maximize the potential effectiveness of PE-PC the present study identified markers for trauma symptom severity in narrative accounts of trauma. Surveys were used to acquire self-reported trauma symptom severity and open-ended descriptions of traumatic events like those in the PE-PC protocol. Using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) to analyze responses, participant self-reported narratives of trauma experiences were compared to self-reported measures of trauma, adverse childhood experiences, and positive childhood experiences. A Kruskal-Wallis test demonstrated that individuals reporting the highest levels of trauma used a greater frequency of health related words H(2) = 6.48, p = .039, while individuals reporting moderate levels of trauma experienced, as reported on the PCL-5, used significantly more words in the feel category than the low trauma group H(2) = 6.508, p = .039. Spearman’s rank correlation demonstrated trauma symptom severity scores had weak, positive relationships with prepositions, biological processes, and health categories, in addition to a weak negative correlation with article usage. The results demonstrate differences in narrative accounts of trauma based on trauma symptom severity level and early childhood positive experiences. In support of emerging literature, regression analysis demonstrated positive childhood experiences had a greater buffering impact on trauma symptom severity scores than adverse childhood experiences.


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