Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy


James Hibel

Committee Member

Anne Rambo

Committee Member

Martha Marquez


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) include childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, and household dysfunction. Much has been reported about the detrimental outcomes associated with these experiences. The associated negative outcomes of ACEs can include addiction, suicide, disability, teenage pregnancy, and early death. However, it is well known that many people experience ACEs and do very well. Rather than viewing negative outcomes only as symptoms of trauma and positive outcomes only as signs of resilience, it is possible to consider adaptations. This study focused on how adults adapted to their adverse childhood experiences. Data were collected based on semistructured interviews with nine members of the ACEs Connection Social Network, an online support group. The data were analyzed using a constructivist grounded theory methodology. A grounded theory then emerged from data, supporting the adaptation construct.