The psychological impact of a traumatic event includes potentially both negative (e.g., PTSD, depression, and anxiety) as well as positive (e.g., post-traumatic growth) outcomes. The construct of self-compassion—the capacity to be compassionate towards oneself—has been associated with various psychological benefits following disasters; however, the association between self-compassion and PTG have not yet been examined in natural disaster settings. This study aimed to examine the relationship between these constructs, with self-compassion as a potential mediator in this relationship. Three hundred and nine undergraduate students affected by the impact of Hurricane Harvey were recruited. Statistical analyses revealed a significant mediation effect, with PTSD symptoms being both directly and indirectly (via self-compassion) associated with PTG. The capacity to grow from traumatic experiences is mediated by one’s disposition to be compassionate towards oneself, serving as a resilience factor to provide individuals with the cognitive and emotional resources to grow after trauma. These findings have significant implications in both clinical and research contexts, including the use of self-compassion interventions to protect against PTSD and other comorbid psychopathology and also act as a catalyst for growth following natural disaster events.
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