Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Alice S. Carter

Second Advisor

Margaret J. Briggs-Gowan

Third Advisor

Edward D. Tronick


The present study employed a relational post-traumatic stress framework to explore the relations between young children's exposure to violence, caregiver psychopathology, caregiver insight, observed caregiver-child relationship, and child psychopathology in a high-risk, non-clinical sample of caregivers and their children 3-5 years of age. Sixty-four low-income caregiver-child dyads participated in this study, comprised of 22 with children who were exposed to violence and 42 non-exposed children group-matched on child age and sex and caregiver bilingual status and education level. Analyses revealed that caregiver insight moderated the relation between exposure status and child psychopathology. Specifically, violence-exposed children with caregivers who were insightful demonstrated internalizing and externalizing symptoms similar to non-exposed children. In contrast, violence-exposed children with caregivers with limited insight demonstrated significantly higher internalizing and externalizing symptoms than violence-exposed children with insightful caregivers and than children without violence exposure. Among non-exposed children, insight was not related to children's externalizing or internalizing symptoms, suggesting trauma-specific processes. This pattern was not observed for anxiety symptoms. Although not expected, caregiver insight and child symptoms were not associated with observed caregiver-child relationship quality in this sample; caregiver insight also was not related to caregiver psychopathology, with the exception of higher levels of psychopathology associated with lower levels of focus on the child. Results suggest strong moderating effects of caregiver insight on the relation between violence exposure and child symptoms and are discussed in terms of clinical and research applications.


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