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Department of Psychiatry

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Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence | Mental and Social Health | Military and Veterans Studies | Movement and Mind-Body Therapies | Psychiatry and Psychology | Women's Health


OBJECTIVES: Up to 70% of women service members in the United States report military sexual trauma (MST); many develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and co-occurring disorders. Trauma-informed yoga (TIY) is suggested to improve psychiatric symptoms and shown feasible and acceptable in emerging research, yet no work has evaluated TIY in MST survivors. The current quality improvement project aimed to examine TIY's feasibility, acceptability, and perceived effects in the context of MST.

DESIGN: Collective case series (N = 7).

SETTING: New England Vet Center.

INTERVENTIONS: Extant TIY program (Mindful Yoga Therapy) adapted for Veteran women with MST in concurrent psychotherapy.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Attrition and attendance; qualitative exit interview; validated self-report measure of negative affect pre/post each yoga class, and symptom severity assessments and surveys before (T1; Time 1) and after the yoga program (T2; Time 2).

RESULTS: Feasibility was demonstrated and women reported TIY was acceptable. In qualitative interviews, women reported improved symptom severity, diet, exercise, alcohol use, sleep, and pain; reduced medication use; and themes related to stress reduction, mindfulness, and self-compassion. Regarding quantitative change, results suggest acute reductions in negative affect following yoga sessions across participants, as well as improved affect dysregulation, shame, and mindfulness T1 to T2.

CONCLUSIONS: TIY is both feasible and acceptable to Veteran women MST survivors in one specific Vet Center, with perceived behavioral health benefits. Results suggest TIY may target psychosocial mechanisms implicated in health behavior change (stress reduction, mindfulness, affect regulation, shame). Formal research should be conducted to confirm these QI project results.


Military sexual trauma, Mindfulness, PTSD, Veterans, Women, Yoga

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This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI of Published Version



Braun TD, Uebelacker LA, Ward M, Holzhauer CG, McCallister K, Abrantes A. "We really need this": Trauma-informed yoga for Veteran women with a history of military sexual trauma. Complement Ther Med. 2021 Jun;59:102729. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102729. Epub 2021 May 6. PMID: 33965560. Link to article on publisher's site.

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Complementary therapies in medicine

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.