Much research has laid bare the significant negative impacts that childhood trauma can have on individuals’ lives; however, its relationships with other variables, including substance use, attachment, and self-esteem, are often unclear. Thus, the current study investigates the relationship between childhood trauma and psychological well-being in conjunction with the variables listed above. I predicted that childhood trauma would have significant relationships with well-being, substance use, attachment style, and self-esteem and also predicted that self-esteem would mediate the relationship between childhood trauma and well-being. Fifty-eighty (58) total participants, who were either clients or staff members of the mental health and substance use treatment center OneEighty, completed a mixed methods survey with quantitative scales for each of the above variables and five total qualitative questions asking them to elaborate on the impacts of their experiences. Initial quantitative results did not support the hypotheses, however additional analyses showed significant direct effects of self-esteem, attachment, and substance use on well-being, as well as significant indirect effects of attachment on well-being via self-esteem. Systematic analysis of participants’ qualitative responses revealed two recurring themes regarding (1) the significance of social support to mental health and life satisfaction and (2) individuals’ likelihood to either repeat patterns of abusive/codependent relationships or to attempt to break out of these patterns. These findings have novel implications for childhood trauma and suggest important roles of factors like self-esteem for adults’ well-being, as well as provide encouragement for future trauma researchers to delve further into subjective experiences and perspectives.


Garcia, Amber






childhood trauma, well-being, substance use, attachment, self-esteem

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar

Included in

Psychology Commons



© Copyright 2022 Karabella Rose Hernandez