Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Psychology

First Advisor

Steven Gold

Second Advisor

Amy Ellis

Third Advisor

Christian DeLucia


adverse childhood experiences, attachment, mental health, offender, trauma


There are millions of adult male offenders currently involved with U.S. corrections system, many of which report a wide range of mental health difficulties and a history of traumatic experiences. Mental health and trauma-related difficulties are important considerations in the treatment and rehabilitation of adult male offenders. The relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), attachment style, and PTSD symptoms were studied in a sample of adult male participants in a court-ordered diversion program. The sample consisted of 59 men, ranging in age from 19 to 68-years-old, who endorsed a history of at least one prior arrest. Data were collected during a psychoeducational group-therapy class offered at a post-arrest diversion program. Primary study measures included the use of the ACEs questionnaire, Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ-40), and the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-5 (PCL-5). A priori hypotheses proposed, 1) there is a significant correlation among ACEs, ASQ subscales, and PTSD symptoms, and 2) insecure attachment subscales mediate the relationship between ACEs and PTSD symptoms. Correlation, regression, and mediation analyses evaluated the relationship among ACEs, ASQ subscales and PCL-5 scores. As predicted, ACEs and PTSD symptoms were negatively correlated with secure attachment and positively correlated with insecure attachment. Also as predicted, insecure attachment style (i.e. discomfort from closeness) mediated the relationship between ACEs and PTSD symptoms. Results suggested that the confidence and discomfort with closeness attachment scales shared a significant relationship between and ACEs and PTSD symptoms. These findings suggest that the relationship between ACEs, attachment style, and PTSD symptomatology can further inform conceptualizations and treatments oriented toward improving outcomes for adult male offenders and successful reintegration into their communities.

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