Present Moment Contact and Nonjudgment: Pilot Data on Dismantling Mindful Awareness in Trauma-Related Symptomatology

Christine E. Valdez, Andrew M. Sherrill, Michelle Lilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conventional views purport that mindfulness includes two components: present moment contact (PMC) and nonjudgment. While mindfulness-based interventions that target a broad spectrum of psychopathology, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), emphasize “being present” as a key mechanism toward wellness, researchers have struggled to measure PMC and assess its clinical utility. Is there any inherent value in PMC or is its clinical utility contingent upon simultaneously engaging in nonjudgment? This pilot study introduces an experimental paradigm designed to dismantle mindfulness and examine the utility of these two components. Forty women with interpersonal victimization histories were assigned to either a nonjudgment condition or a control condition. Next, participants recalled their trauma and then wrote down whatever information was present in their awareness. PMC was measured in both conditions by assessing the frequency of present tense verbs used within these written protocols. As predicted, in the absence of nonjudgment, PMC was related to high negative affect and low positive affect, though unrelated to trauma intrusion frequency. In the nonjudgment condition, PMC was no longer related to state affect and inversely related to trauma intrusion frequency. These pilot data suggest that isolating PMC from nonjudgment may be unhelpful and perhaps iatrogenic.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Mindfulness
  • Present moment contact
  • Nonjudgment
  • Trauma


  • Psychiatry
  • Psychiatry and Psychology
  • Psychology

Cite this