Evaluating the association between interpersonal trauma and self-identity: a systematic review

Grace Kouvelis, Maria Kangas

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Research has demonstrated that interpersonal trauma can have deleterious effects on functioning, including disrupting the development and stability of an individual’s self-identity (e.g., self-concept or sense of self). A growing volume of studies have investigated the relation between trauma-related symptoms and self-identity following interpersonal trauma exposure. Hence, it is timely to conduct a review of this literature. The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the association between interpersonal trauma and self-identity. A final search of the literature was conducted using the EbscoHost, Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Cochrane databases. The review methodology was based on the PRISMA guidelines, and the risk of bias of individual studies was assessed with the Quality Assessment Tool for Studies of Diverse Design. A total of 59 studies published in peer-reviewed journals met the inclusion criteria for this review. Assessment tools of self-identity were highly variable across the included studies. Despite the differences in measures, overall, interpersonal trauma was found to have a negative impact on self-identity across the life span, which attests to the need to address the issue of altered self-identity in psychotherapy interventions. Future research should also aim to develop a reliable and valid assessment of self-identity, given the lack of consensus in this field. In addition, there is a notable paucity of prospective, longitudinal studies in this field, which need to be addressed in future research. Moreover, future studies are warranted to evaluate factors that may influence the detrimental impact of interpersonal trauma on self-identity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)118–148
    Number of pages31
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


    • abuse
    • interpersonal trauma
    • self-concept
    • self-identity
    • sense of self


    Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating the association between interpersonal trauma and self-identity: a systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this