Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology - Florida School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Christina D. Brown, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Marcia Pita, Ph.D.



A growing body of research has demonstrated a strong relationship between childhood interpersonal trauma and development of auditory hallucinations in children, adolescents, and adults. Several factors may influence whether an individual will experience auditory hallucinations after exposure to childhood interpersonal traumatic events, including the type of trauma exposure such as childhood sexual abuse or neglect, and biopsychosocial factors such as genetics or the environment. Additionally, the content of auditory hallucinations may include thematic representations of childhood interpersonal trauma. Auditory hallucinations may be perceived as commanding, threatening, and cause fear in individuals who experience them. Research suggests that dissociation may mediate the link between childhood interpersonal traumatic experiences and auditory hallucinations. Further, auditory hallucinations may be transdiagnostic when considering exposure to childhood interpersonal trauma. Childhood interpersonal trauma appears to be a risk factor for auditory hallucinations within the context of mental health; however, there is a significant gap in our current diagnostic information and research, which is problematic for assessment, treatment planning, and treatment for individuals who have experienced childhood interpersonal trauma. Including a psychotic symptom subtype of PTSD specifying auditory hallucinations within the DSM system may aid in filling this gap. The complex relationship between childhood interpersonal trauma and auditory hallucinations posits several implications for clinicians, considerations for treatment, and future research to best serve adults, children, and adolescents experiencing this symptom.



It takes a village to successfully graduate a doctoral candidate. First, I would like to thank God for all of this. To my faculty advisor and chair, Christina D. Brown, Psy.D., thank you for your support, mentorship, advice and knowledge you have given me through this journey. Thank you for your patience and kindness when I was feeling stress and encouraging me to keep moving forward. To my co-chair Marcia Pita, Ph.D., thank you for your mentorship and thorough knowledge of assessment and treating children and adolescents. The support and guidance I have received from both of you is immeasurable, and I can only hope to emulate myself to be half of the psychologist in my future career that both of you are. To the dean of the Florida School of Professional Psychology, Crystal Collier, Psy.D., thank you for fighting tirelessly to keep our incredible clinical psychology program going. To the training director and internship director of our program, Gary Howell Psy.D. and Kathie Bates, Ph.D., thank you for your guidance in providing the best clinical experiences we could possibly have to meet our needs for practicum and internship. To Eric Rosen, Ph.D., thank you for your guidance, mentorship, and believing in my ability to become a psychologist before I even believed in myself. To the rest of the faculty, Patricia Dixon, Psy.D., Lisa Costas, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Lane, Ph.D., thank you for the knowledge and guidance you provided from your area of expertise. To my internship supervisor, Robert Boxley, Ph.D., thank you for providing me with the opportunity to work with clients who have experienced trauma and aiding me in my professional development and growth through the process of practicum then later as an intern. To my practicum supervisor, Bart Hodgens Ph.D., thank you for having confidence in me even when I did not have it in myself as a second year clinical psychology doctorate student to assess some of the most complex cases involving trauma with children and adolescents that you have ever seen. If it were not for you, I would not have developed the knowledge and passion to ultimately pursue this topic for my Clinical Research Project. To the rest of my practicum supervisors, thank you for the invaluable clinical experience and supervision you provided to shape me into the professional I continue to become. To my mother-in-law Janet and Aunt Peggy, you are two of the most selfless people I have ever known. Thank you for your love and sacrificing your time for my family so I could finish this journey. To Terri, Steve, Shea, Ty, Bill and all the other friends, neighbors, and family who have helped with my children or provided meals when I was diligently working on projects. To my mother, Lois, your example of love and your kind heart made me the person I am today. Thank you for caring for my children while I studied even on days when you were too tired to do so. To my father, Scott, your love, your example of hard work, resilience, and dedication fueled my perseverance through seemingly endless nights. To my stepmother, Shannon, thank you for being a mother figure and teaching me to advocate for what I believe in to protect others. To Jerry, thank you for being a father figure through love, acceptance, and patience. To my children, Matthew, Aubrey, and Arabella who have all sacrificed time away from their mother so she could achieve her goals. My love for you is beyond measure. Hopefully, I have been a demonstration for you of what it means to set a goal, accomplish a goal, work hard, and never give up. Your patience and understanding through this process has meant more to me than you will ever know. Merely being in your presence brought me joy on my most difficult days. Lastly, but certainly not least, I want to thank my husband, Matthew Pinelli, Jr.; your sacrifices have enabled me to accomplish this journey. There are not enough words to express my love and gratitude for you. Thank you for unconditional love, dedication, and support. Thank you for tirelessly working multiple jobs to provide for our family while I achieved my goals and dreams. I could not have done any of this without all of you, and I am forever grateful for all the sacrifices all of you have made on my behalf.