ArticleLiterature Review

Compassion interventions: The programmes, the evidence, and implications for research and practice

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Abstract

Purpose. Over the last 10–15 years, there has been a substantive increase in compassion-based interventions aiming to improve psychological functioning and well- being. Methods. This study provides an overview and synthesis of the currently available compassion-based interventions. What do these programmes looks like, what are their aims, and what is the state of evidence underpinning each of them? Results. This overview has found at least eight different compassion-based interven- tions (e.g., Compassion-Focused Therapy, Mindful Self-Compassion, Cultivating Com- passion Training, Cognitively Based Compassion Training), with six having been evaluated in randomized controlled trials, and with a recent meta-analysis finding that compassion- based interventions produce moderate effect sizes for suffering and improved life satisfaction. Conclusions. Although further research is warranted, the current state of evidence highlights the potential benefits of compassion-based interventions on a range of outcomes that clinicians can use in clinical practice with clients.

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... Il existe différents programmes de thérapie, basés sur la compassion. Au moins six interventions sont actuellement appuyées empiriquement (Kirby, 2016) ; la thérapie focalisée compassion (CFT; ...
... Si la joie sociale régule les émotions négatives, elle devrait ainsi limiter cet effet de l'autocritique. Le soi rassurant est associé à une gamme d'effets bénéfiques pour le bien-être physiologique et psychologique (Keltner, Kogan, Piff & Saturn, 2014) ainsi qu'à l'amélioration des stratégies d'adaptation, de la résilience et de la persévérance Kirby, 2016) . Gilbert (2000) suggère que la chaleur intérieure et la compassion envers soi-même sont une réponse affective réduisant le dégoût et à la haine de soi. ...
... Cette approche offre une perspective pour de nouvelles études sur des thérapies spécifiques pour les personnes ayant des niveaux élevés de haine de soi, qui peuvent présenter un fort niveau de résistance au début de la thérapie et peuvent donc être sous-représentées dans les protocoles de recherche classiques. Les différents types de thérapie qui abordent la compassion présentent une efficacité spécifique pour ces processus (Kirby, 2016). Le soi rassurant est lié à l'auto-compassion (Neff, 2003). ...
Thesis
Contexte : La compassion est une motivation qui permet de réduire la souffrance. Ces deux dernières décennies, les recherches sur l’auto-compassion ont clairement montré un rôle bénéfique sur la détresse psychologique. A l’inverse l’autocritique est une relation à soi caractérisée par l’hostilité dans l’épreuve qui favorise l’émergence de troubles psychopathologiques. Ce travail explore pour la première fois le rôle de l’activation de la joie sociale dans la compassion.Objectifs : L’objectif était d’étudier le rôle des émotions positives dans la compassion à un niveau processuel (attention et émotions) dans l’imagerie focalisée sur la compassion. La version française du questionnaire Forms of Self-Criticizing/Attacking and Self-Reassuring Scale (FSCRS) ainsi que sa structure factorielle ont été étudiées. L’effet d’un programme à distance d’entrainement à la compassion sur quatre semaines a été exploré. Méthode : La structure factorielle en deux ou trois facteurs et les qualités psychométriques du FSCRS ont été analysés (n=285). Le traitement attentionnel des visages émotionnels, critiques et de compassion, a été évalué grâce à l'ensemble de stimuli « McEwan Faces », avant et après l'exposition à une imagerie de compassion ou une imagerie neutre (n = 80) selon la méthodologie appelée dot probe task. Les émotions des participants (positives et négatives) ont également été mesurées. L’imagerie de compassion a été conçue pour activer de la joie sociale. L’effet de l’autocritique a été explorée. Dans l’intervention en quatre semaines (n=90), un groupe non clinique a été affecté par randomisation stratifiée par bloc en deux groupes équivalents. Nous avons vérifié l’effet bénéfique du programme sur des dimensions de psychopathologie, d’autocritique, de pleine conscience et sur des processus psychologiques liés à la régulation émotionnelle.Résultats : Une analyse factorielle confirmatoire a montré un ajustement des items du FSCRS à un modèle à trois facteurs ainsi que des qualités psychométriques satisfaisantes du questionnaire. Avant l’imagerie, les participants avaient tendance à détourner le regard des visages critiques avec un effet de l’autocritique. Les deux types d'imageries réduisaient le biais d’éloignement des visages critiques lorsque les stimuli étaient présentés pendant 1200 ms. Cet effet interagissait avec l’autocritique dans l’imagerie neutre. L'imagerie de compassion réduisait d’avantage les émotions négatives que l’imagerie de neutre (d = 0,78) et augmentait les niveaux d'émotions positives, alors que l'imagerie neutre réduisait les émotions positives (d = 0,77) sans interaction de l’autocritique sur cet effet. Finalement, les résultats indiquaient un effet significatif de l’intervention sur les variables de compassion, de psychopathologie et de pleine conscience. Cet effet était maintenu après un mois. Conclusion : Les résultats confirment que la version française du FSCRS est un instrument robuste et fiable. Pour la première fois, il a été montré un effet de l’autocritique sur le traitement attentionnel des visages critiques. Les résultats questionnent la possibilité d’un effet de l’imagerie de compassion sur le traitement attentionnel des visages critiques. Les émotions positives et en particulier la joie sociale, définie comme la joie d’une attention ou d’une présence partagée semblent jouer un rôle de régulation émotionnelle dans la compassion. Finalement, le programme d’entrainement à la compassion présentait un effet bénéfique sur la santé psychique et cet effet était maintenu un mois après la fin du programme.
... Hatta hukuk alanındaki etik tartışmalarda bile merhamet kavramının önemli olduğunu ve ele alınması gerektiğini öne süren görüşler ortaya atılmıştır (Norko, 2005). Son yıllarda merhamet konusu çeşitli alanlarda on binlerce yayında yer almıştır (Kirby, 2017). Bu çalışmada merhamet konusuna artan ilgi, merhamete ilişkin çeşitli tanımlar, merhametin gelişimi, merhamet temelli müdahale programları ve eğitim alanında merhamet konuları ele alınmıştır. ...
... Merhamet sosyalleşmenin gelişmesinde (Curtis, Horton ve Smith, 2012), prososyal davranışların kazanılmasında (Leiberg, Klimecki ve Singer, 2011), iyi-oluşun artırılmasında (Jazaieri ve diğerleri, 2014), stres ve kaygının azaltılmasında (Jazaieri ve diğerleri, 2018), sosyal adaletin gelişmesinde (Williams, 2008) etkili olabilmektedir. Ayrıca merhametin psikopatoloji ile negatif ve kendini toparlama gücü ile pozitif ilişkili olduğu (MacBeth ve Gumley, 2012), işyerinde iş birliğini geliştirerek ve stresi azaltarak iş performansını arttırdığı (Martin ve diğerleri,2015), sosyal bağları güçlendirdiği (Seppala, Rossomando ve Doty, 2012), beyin, beden ve kalp sağlığı üzerinde etkili olduğu (Kirby, 2017), merhamet ve empati eğitiminin insan beyninin farklı bölgelerini aktifleştirdiği (Klimecki, Leiberg, Ricard ve Singer, 2014) belirtilmektedir. Bunun yanı sıra merhametli olmak, insanların sosyal destek alma/sunma yeteneğini geliştirebilmekte (Cosley, McCoy, Saslow ve Epel, 2010) ve kişisel zorluklar esnasında ya da kişilerarası ilişkilerde sorun yaşayan merhametli bireylerin sosyal destek sunabilecekleri ve empati gösterebilecekleri belirtilmektedir (Sprecher ve Fehr, 2005). ...
... Merhametin bir önceki bölümde sözü edilen yararlarının yanı sıra, merhametin farklı sorun ve bozukluklarda kullanılabilecek aratanısal (transdiagnostic) bir süreç olduğu düşünülmektedir (Kirby, 2017). Bu yüzden alanyazında buna ilişkin araştırma, uygulama ve müdahale programlarının sayısı ve çeşitliliği giderek çoğalmaktadır. ...
Article
Merhamet konusu günümüzde psikoloji, eğitim, sağlık, sosyal hizmet, hukuk ve etik gibi çeşitli alanlarda yaygın şekilde araştırılan konulardan biri haline gelmiştir. Temelde bireyin başkasının acısını fark etmesi ve o acıyı dindirmek için harekete geçip eylemde bulunması olarak kavramsallaştırılan bu kavram, ruh sağlığı alanında kaygı, korku, stres, depresyon, değersizlik, öfke, kendini suçlama, aşırı özeleştiri gibi çeşitli sorunların tedavisinde de etkin şekilde kullanılan terapötik güçlerden biridir. Yapılan araştırmalarda merhametin sosyalleşmenin gelişmesinde, sosyal adaletin sağlanmasında, prososyal davranışların ve iyi oluşun artmasında etkili olduğu tespit edilmiştir. Ayrıca merhametin zorlu duygularla başa çıkmada ve olumsuz psikolojik durumları azaltmada önemli bir işlev gördüğü ortaya konulmuştur. Merhamet kavramı bireyin hem kendisine hem diğer insanlara hem de doğaya ve diğer bütün canlılara duyduğu his olarak çok boyutlu şekilde ele alınmaktadır. Son yıllarda hem bireylerde merhameti geliştirmek hem de merhamet eğitimi yoluyla eğitim ve ruh sağlığı alanlarında olumlu sonuçlar elde etmek için çeşitli uygulamalar yapılmakta, eğitim programları geliştirilmekte ve yeni terapi modelleri ortaya atılmaktadır. Bu çalışmada merhamet konusuna artan ilgi, merhamete ilişkin çeşitli tanımlar, merhamet duymanın faydaları, merhametin gelişimi, merhamet temelli müdahale programları ve eğitim alanında merhamet konuları ele alınmıştır. Bu bağlamda, bu çalışmanın amacı merhametle ilgili alanyazındaki güncel araştırmalar ve ortaya konan yaklaşımlar çerçevesinde merhamet eğitimi ve eğitimde merhamet konularını çeşitli boyutlarıyla ele almak ve eğitimcilere, ebeveynlere, araştırmacılara ve uygulayıcılara bazı öneriler sunmaktır.
... These three orientations (self-, from others and to others) were positively correlated with safe positive affect (Steindl et al., 2018) and with well-being . Research has shown that both compassion for self and for others are related to lower depression and anxiety, increasing resilience to stress and greater satisfaction with life, wellbeing and enriched interpersonal relationships (Kirby, 2017;MacBeth & Gumley, 2012;Neff, 2003a). Steindl et al. (2018) also found that people with higher levels of self-compassion scored lower on depressive symptoms. ...
... Given the benefits of compassion, a number of interventions have been developed with the aim of cultivating these skills (Kirby, 2017), namely: Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC; Neff & Germer, 2013), Cultivation Compassion Training (CCT; Jazaieri et al., 2013), Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT; Pace et al., 2009), Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB; Kemeny et al., 2012), Compassion and Loving-Kindness Meditations (e.g., Hoffman et al., 2011) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT; Gilbert, 2014). In CFT compassion is perceived as a motivational and behavioral component, according to the previously discussed model of compassion (Gilbert, 2015). ...
... The aim of this approach is to use compassionate mind training to help people develop and work with experiences of inner warmth, safeness and soothing, via compassion and self-compassion (Gilbert, 2009). Compassion-based interventions have shown promissing results, such as increases in self-compassion, mindfulness, wellbeing outcomes and reduced negative affect (Kirby, 2017). ...
Article
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Compassion can be defined as a sensitivity to suffering, both in the self and others, with a motivation and commitment to alleviate and prevent this suffering. Mounting research has documented the countless benefits of compassion-based interventions. The Compassion Motivation and Action Scales (CMAS) were designed to assess motivation and action as core components of compassion and self-compassion, and to allow the measurement of changes in compassionate action over time. This study aims to examine the factor structure and psychometric characteristics of the CMAS in the Portuguese population and further expand its original study by exploring its test–retest reliability and responsiveness to change. Factor structure, internal consistency and construct validity of the Compassion for Others and Self-Compassion Scales of the CMAS were examined in 516 adult participants recruited from the general community. Test–retest reliability and responsiveness to change were tested in a sample of 112 participants enrolled in a Compassion Mind Training for Teachers (CMT-T) program as part of a larger intervention trial. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis results confirmed the original structure of the instrument, composed by three subscales (intention, distress tolerance and action), both for the Compassion for Others scale (12 items) and the Self-Compassion scale (18 items). The CMAS revealed good internal consistency, adequate construct validity, temporal stability and sensitivity to change. Therefore, the CMAS seems to constitute a valid and reliable instrument for the assessment of compassionate and self-compassionate motivation and action, which can be used as both a research and clinical tool.
... In this 8-12 week intervention, Gilbert (2010) focused on the motivation to engage with others' suffering and the action to do something to alleviate the suffering. The theoretical underpinning of this intervention integrates evolutionary psychology, attachment theory, applied psychological science, social mentality theory, and Buddhist psychology (Kirby, 2016). In this intervention, mindfulness exercises and breathing techniques are introduced to participants using a psychotherapeutic approach to reduce patients' feelings of criticism (Kirby, 2016). ...
... The theoretical underpinning of this intervention integrates evolutionary psychology, attachment theory, applied psychological science, social mentality theory, and Buddhist psychology (Kirby, 2016). In this intervention, mindfulness exercises and breathing techniques are introduced to participants using a psychotherapeutic approach to reduce patients' feelings of criticism (Kirby, 2016). Additionally, the Compassion Cultivation Training developed by Jinpa and Weiss (2013) from the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) focused on a Tibetan Buddhist perspective that includes Western psychology, and this intervention is a 9-weekly session program that is focused on increasing compassion by adopting meditation, breathing techniques, exercises, and active compassion visualizations (Jazaieri et al., 2013;Kirby, 2016). ...
... In this intervention, mindfulness exercises and breathing techniques are introduced to participants using a psychotherapeutic approach to reduce patients' feelings of criticism (Kirby, 2016). Additionally, the Compassion Cultivation Training developed by Jinpa and Weiss (2013) from the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) focused on a Tibetan Buddhist perspective that includes Western psychology, and this intervention is a 9-weekly session program that is focused on increasing compassion by adopting meditation, breathing techniques, exercises, and active compassion visualizations (Jazaieri et al., 2013;Kirby, 2016). Similarly, the Cognitively Based Compassion Training intervention was developed by (Ozawa-de Silva & Negi, 2013) using a Tibetan Buddhist perspective with cognitive theory as its underpinning theory. ...
Chapter
The use of empathy, compassion, and self-compassion can aid in the reduction of workplace suffering due to workplace cyberbullying. As such, this chapter defines each of these constructs and reviews their relevance to the management of workplace bullying. The main purpose of the chapter was to review prosocial interventions that incorporate positive psychological constructs such as empathy, compassion, and self-compassion. Prosocial workplace interventions serve to prevent and reduce workplace cyberbullying behavior in at-risk organizations. Interventions can be used to educate and train employees and leaders across organizations on how to cope with workplace cyberbullying as it emerges at work. A case study is offered along with recommendations to highlight how organizations might use an intervention approach to manage workplace cyberbullying. Future research directions are also offered to inspire workplace cyberbullying intervention research in organizations.
... Existe evidencia empírica de que mayores niveles de ACP se vinculan con una amplia gama de indicadores de funcionamiento adaptativo, tales como el bienestar subjetivo o la reducción de niveles de depresión (Homan, 2016;van der Donk et al., 2020). En esta línea, se han desarrollado programas de intervención en ACP (véase Kirby, 2016) que evidencian, pese a la estabilidad de la ACP, variaciones significativas intrasujeto de un periodo de tiempo a otro (Dupasquier et al., 2018) y resultados positivos en diversos indicadores psicosociales (Ferrari et al., 2019). ...
... El abordaje de los contenidos de ACP se realizó atendiendo a sus tres dimensiones: autoamabilidad vs. autocrítica; humanidad común vs. aislamiento; mindfulness vs. sobreidentificación. En consonancia con la revisión de Kirby (2016), nuestro programa incluía un componente psicoeducativo y experiencial. ...
... Nuestros resultados cuestionan el significado genuino de la ACP evaluada con medidas de autoinforme (cuestionarios) en población no familiarizada con el concepto. Estas medidas, lejos de ser perfectas (Kirby, 2016), parecerían generar distintas representaciones de la ACP en los investigadores y en quienes las cumplimentan. En último término, podría ser necesaria una labor psicoeducativa que redunde en los beneficios asociados con la ACP. ...
Article
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Introducción: La autocompasión (ACP), disposición para tratarse uno mismo de forma amable, incide en los procesos de enseñanza-aprendizaje en la educación superior. El estudio analiza la relación entre la ACP y el rendimiento académico en estudiantes del Grado en Psicología. Método: Se empleó un diseño pretest-postest con dos grupos, experimental y control. El primero recibió un programa de entrenamiento en ACP durante todo el curso académico. Nuestras hipótesis fueron: 1ª, que el programa mejoraría los niveles de ACP ante dificultades que se experimentan: a) en el estudio (ACP-DE) y b) en la aplicación de contenidos curriculares a la vida cotidiana (ACP-DAVC); 2ª, una relación positiva y significativa de ambos constructos con el rendimiento académico. Se elaboraron dos escalas para la evaluación de las facetas específico-aplicadas de ACP. Resultados: El programa de intervención produjo una mejora significativa en ACP-DE y ACP-DAVC. El grupo experimental entendió el concepto y utilidad de la ACP, obteniéndose correlaciones positivas y significativas entre el cambio intraindividual en ACP-DAVC y el rendimiento académico. Por el contrario, en el grupo control, diversas medidas intraindividuales de mejora en ACP mostraron correlaciones significativas de signo negativo con el rendimiento académico. Discusión: Globalmente considerados, los resultados prestan un apoyo significativo a las hipótesis planteadas. Se discuten las bondades del programa desarrollado y se plantea la necesidad de considerar la ACP como una clave potencial de innovación educativa en el contexto del enfoque de las competencias propio del Espacio Europeo de Educación Superior.
... Eligible works explored the association between effects of SC on at least one of three specific health outcomes: affective states (e.g., distress, depression, anxiety), health behaviors/management (e.g., physical activity, diet, medical adherence, information seeking), and/or self-regulation (e.g., behavioral or cognitive emotional regulation). Randomized controlled trials must have employed a self-compassion-focused intervention (Kirby, 2017) such as mindful self-compassion training (Neff & Germer, 2013), compassionate mind training (Gilbert & Procter, 2006), or compassion-focused therapy (Gilbert, 2009). Eligible intervention studies could employ any type of control group or employ a single-arm design. ...
... There have been multiple interventions focused on increasing SC (Kirby, 2017). Although many interventions included within this scoping review utilized an 8-week Mindful SC Intervention (Neff & Germer, 2013), there were studies which either modified the Mindful SC Intervention (i.e., Heo et al., 2018) or utilized other interventions focused on increasing SC (e.g., Cognitively-Based Compassion Training; Dodds et al., 2015). ...
Article
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Objectives Health behavior engagement reduces adverse events associated with chronic disease. Self-regulating health behaviors is challenging; individuals are further at a disadvantage due to the experience of unpleasant affective states after chronic disease diagnosis. Self-compassion (SC)—an orientation to care for oneself during challenging times—may reduce the experience of difficult affective states and facilitate health behavior self-regulation. This study’s aim was to systematically explore SC’s relationship with affective states, health behavior engagement, and self-regulation among individuals living with a chronic disease. Methods We conducted a scoping review from six databases. Eligible studies included adults diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), or respiratory disease; utilized a SC intervention, prospective or cross-sectional design; were written in English; investigated affective states, health behaviors, and/or self-regulation; and used a validated SC scale. Results Thirty-seven articles (N = 7,141 participants) were included in the review. SC was positively associated with health behavior engagement and adaptive cognitive emotional regulation in all included chronic diseases (except respiratory disease). SC was negatively associated with unpleasant affective states in the context of all included chronic diseases. Preliminary results indicate SC interventions may lead to decreases in unpleasant affective states among individuals diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, and CVD. No research has examined SC and behavior self-regulation. Conclusions This review highlights the potential psychological and physical benefits of SC for individuals diagnosed with a chronic disease. More research is needed to understand the role of SC among individuals diagnosed with a chronic disease.
... In the last decade, scientific evidence has supported the relationship between the practice of mindfulness and self-compassion and positive psychological outcomes (Neff & Germer, 2013, 2017. In particular, a significant number of studies have focused on evaluating the effectiveness of mindfulness and compassion-based protocols, revealing these programmes' beneficial effects concerning the prevention and treatment of mental health issues (Wilson et al., 2019). ...
... Training self-compassion skills is associated with improvements in well-being (Neff & Germer, 2017; and reduced psychopathological symptoms (Friis et al., 2016;Inwood & Ferrari, 2018). Moreover, recent meta-analyses concluded that self-compassion interventions improved the levels of mindfulness and well-being, and reduced stress, self-criticism, anxiety, and depressive symptoms (Ferrari et al., 2019;Kirby, 2017;Wilson et al., 2019). ...
Article
Objective: The mindfulness and self-compassion (MSC) protocol has shown efficacy in reducing mental illness symptoms and increasing well-being. However, little is known on how the positive outcomes are produced. This study explores how reductions in experiential avoidance following MSC training may explain changes in the participants' levels of anxiety, depression, and well-being. Methods: The 8-week protocol-based MSC training was delivered to 50 participants, and pre- to post- intervention changes in anxiety, depression, and well-being were measured. A series of mediation models were conducted, with changes in self-compassion as predictor, changes in experiential avoidance as mediator, and changes in mental health and well-being as outcome variables. Point estimates and bootstrap-corrected 95% confidence intervals were calculated to analyse indirect effects through experiential avoidance, by means of structural equation modeling (SEM). Results: Following MSC training, participants increased their levels of self-compassion, reduced experiential avoidance, and enhanced mental health (i.e., anxiety and depression symptoms) and well-being scores. Increases in self-compassion were associated with decreases in experiential avoidance, which in turn were connected with changes in anxiety, depression, and well-being from pre- to post-training. The indirect path through changes in experiential avoidance represented moderate to large proportions of the total effects of self-compassion change-scores on anxiety, depression, and well-being change-scores. Conclusions: Reducing experiential avoidance and increasing psychological flexibility may be a key effect of MSC training linked to improvements of the participants' mental health and well-being scores. Self-compassion practices could exert effects on anxiety, depression and well-being mainly through promoting reductions in experiential avoidance.
... Scholars have put forth self-compassion as being of particular interest for organizations (Kirby, 2017), due to it being a coping strategy that transforms such emotions as fear, sadness, anger, guilt, and shame into connection, common humanity, meaning, and hope (McGonigal, 2019). A recent study has shown that organizational leaders improve their emotional regulation skills after undergoing self-compassion training (Paakkanen et al., 2020). ...
... A range of compassion-based interventions have been developed, including Compassion-Focused Therapy (Gilbert, 2014), Mindful Self-Compassion (Neff and Germer, 2013), Compassion Cultivation Training (Jazaieri et al., 2013), Cognitively Based Compassion Training (Pace et al., 2009), and Cultivating Emotional Balance (Kemeny et al., 2012). Many of these focus on the view of compassion as an intrinsic motivation (Gilbert, 2017(Gilbert, , 2019, and on the development of affiliative and prosocial functioning (Weng et al., 2013;Kirby, 2017), as well as strengthening mental health (Gilbert and Procter, 2006;Cuppage et al., 2018;Irons and Heriot-Maitland, 2020) and physical health (Austin et al., 2020). ...
Article
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Stress and mental ill-health carry considerable costs for both individuals and organizations. Although interventions targeting compassion and self-compassion have been shown to reduce stress and benefit mental health, related research in organizational settings is limited. We investigated the effects of a 6-week psychological intervention utilizing compassion training on stress, mental health, and self-compassion. Forty-nine employees of two organizations were randomly assigned to either the intervention (n = 25) or a physical exercise control condition (n = 24). Multilevel growth models showed that stress (p = .04) and mental ill-health (p = .02) decreased over three months in both groups (pre-intervention to follow-up: Cohen’s d = –0.46 and d = 0.33, respectively), while self-compassion only increased in the intervention group (p = .03, between group d = .53). There were no significant effects on life satisfaction in any of the groups (p > .53). The findings show promising results regarding the ability of compassion training within organizations to decrease stress and mental ill-health and increase self-compassion.
... We, among others (Mosewich et al., 2019), suggest that selfcompassion may be valuable for competitors. The ability to be self-compassionate, either intrinsically or through cultivation and training, has been associated with a range of positive outcomes in both general and clinical populations (Ferrari et al., 2019;Kirby, 2017;Marsh et al., 2018;Turk & Waller, 2020;Wilson et al., 2019a). There is also a growing literature on the benefit of self-compassion in performers, whichto the authors' knowledgehas all been conducted thus far in athletes (Mosewich, 2020;Mosewich et al., 2019 (Gilbert, 2020;Kirby, 2017). ...
... The ability to be self-compassionate, either intrinsically or through cultivation and training, has been associated with a range of positive outcomes in both general and clinical populations (Ferrari et al., 2019;Kirby, 2017;Marsh et al., 2018;Turk & Waller, 2020;Wilson et al., 2019a). There is also a growing literature on the benefit of self-compassion in performers, whichto the authors' knowledgehas all been conducted thus far in athletes (Mosewich, 2020;Mosewich et al., 2019 (Gilbert, 2020;Kirby, 2017). In sport, Mosewich et al. (2013) developed an intervention which primarily focused on self-compassionate writing exercises, which led to increased selfcompassion along with reduced self-criticism, rumination, and concern over mistakes. ...
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Performers, such as athletes, actors, dancers, and musicians, function within high pressure competitive and often hostile or critical environments. These individuals can be prone to a range of self-critical cognitions and behaviours which may make them susceptible to mental ill-health and psychological distress. Fostering and nurturing self-compassion is one approach to motivating behaviour and health which may be relevant within training and support settings. Self-compassion has been associated with a range of positive outcomes in the general community, as well as in those functioning in performance spaces, primarily sport. In this commentary, we outline why cultivation of self-compassion may be an increasingly valuable method for psychologists working with individuals from these environments, particularly within the context of a decimated industry during the global pandemic. We provide a brief overview of relevant research, before exploring practical and applied approaches (including transcripts) that can be used within therapeutic settings.
... In addition, these interventions can be developed, operationalized, and improved through practice. According to Kirby [66], there are programs based on compassion with empirical evidence, such as compassionfocused therapy [67], and mindful self-compassion training [68]. Following the proposal of Strauss et al. [69] and after the results of the present study, one of the lines of psycho-logical approach would be to conceptualize compassion as a cognitive, affective, and behavioral process that would enhance five elements referred to both as self-compassion and compassion for others: (a) being aware of suffering, (b) assuming it as a universal phenomenon in the human condition, (c) showing empathy for those who suffer and connecting with their emotions, (d) being tolerant of the annoying feelings that are aroused by the response (anguish, anger, fear) by remaining open and accepting the sufferer and (e) being motivated to act and alleviate suffering. ...
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The secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are distress triggers and risk factors for mental health. Conversely, self-compassion skills and compassionate thoughts/behaviors towards suffering may contribute to their alleviation. Both psychological constructs are interrelated in life-threatening diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). The Teruel Study retrospectively evaluated the impact of strict confinement on the 44 people with MS of this Spanish province and 24 caregivers, specifically assessing (1) fears and perceptions; (2) self-compassion (people with MS) and compassion (caregivers); (3) physical and mental health, and fatigue. Despite better housing conditions, people with MS considered confinement very difficult to handle, more than their caregivers, but they were less afraid of COVID-19 and worsening of MS. Still, they recognized worse health than before confinement. Reclusion and lack of walks were the worst of confinement. Caregivers also referred to lack of leisure and uncertainty–fear. All agreed the best was staying with the family, but some found ‘nothing’ positive. Self-compassion remained moderate–high and strongly correlated with their moderate levels of social function, vitality, physical role, and global health. Physical and cognitive fatigue scores were high, and self-compassion negatively correlated with them, explaining a 19% variance in global health. The high compassion of the caregivers did not correlate with any variable.
... That is, to humanize people from Global Majority communities in a field that often objectifies, fetishizes, pathologizes, or erases their stories. Expanding on common understandings of care and compassion in psychology and related fields (see Kirby, 2017), we encourage training efforts to increase the awareness of individual and collective journeys of pain and joys. This includes contextualizing people's lived experiences through a cultural and systems analysis. ...
Article
Written against the backdrop of the 2020 twin pandemics of a global health crisis and greater national awareness of structural racism, this article issues a call for psychology to invest in training all psychologists to respond to the social ills of racial and other forms of oppression. We introduce a public psychology for liberation (PPL) training model. Essentially, the model reflects a science, a pedagogical commitment, and practice of, by, and with the people who have been most marginalized in society. The PPL consists of five foundational domains or cross-cutting areas of expertise (e.g., facilitate human relationships; generate reciprocal knowledge and translation) and 10 interrelated lifelong practices (e.g., cultural humility; care and compassion) that foster healing and equity. The model centers the perspectives of the Global Majority, focuses on radical healing and equity, and emphasizes a developmental, culturally grounded, strengths-based approach to training. Various training initiatives consistent with a public psychology for liberation approach are presented. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... Regarding the characteristics of mindfulness-and compassion-based parenting interventions, almost all studies applied mindfulness-based interventions or mindfulness components complemented with different approaches (compassionate or not), adapted for the parenting context and the postpartum period. The only compassion-based intervention (Poehlmann-Tynan et al., 2019) included mindfulness-based training (Kirby, 2017), because mindfulness is one of the components of compassion (Neff, 2003). Although the different therapeutic components were associated with benefits for the parent-infant outcomes, it is difficult to understand which components clearly contribute to the positive outcomes, if it was mindfulness and compassionate components, or the attachment-based components used in the intervention developed by Gannon et al. (2017) and Gannon et al. (2019), the Insight-oriented, Relational, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy components used in the intervention developed by Meschino et al. (2015), or the neurodevelopmental care training developed in the intervention of Petteys and Adoumie (2018). ...
Article
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The postpartum period involves several psychological and emotional challenges for parents that can interfere with the quality of parent-infant interactions, which may have negative consequences for the child development and parental mental health. Mindfulness- and compassion-based parenting interventions may help parents develop adaptive parenting skills and adjust better to the parental role during this period, since mindfulness and compassion are considered modifiable and protective skills that allow parents to better regulate their emotions in parenting and to establish a secure relationship with the infant. We conducted a systematic review, according to the PRISMA guidelines, to comprehensively examine the evidence regarding the effect of those interventions applied to the postpartum period. A systematic search of all papers published prior to December 2019 was conducted in four electronic databases. Empirical studies published in peer-reviewed journals with postpartum parents who participated in a mindfulness- and compassion-based intervention were included. After screening 1651 references, we identified nine eligible studies in nine journal articles. The intervention programs were mainly mindfulness-based, with 8 to 12 weekly sessions delivered in a group format. Most of them were conducted with samples of mother-infant dyads, and the baby was present in some or all intervention sessions. The interventions mainly used mindfulness-based formal and informal meditations, interactive play and group discussion and were associated with the promotion of parenting skills and the quality of parental caregiving. Although there is insufficient evidence about the efficacy and effectiveness of the interventions, this systematic review suggests that there are several mindfulness- and compassion-based parenting interventions using different therapeutic techniques that seem to be beneficial for promoting positive parenting skills and the quality of parent-infant relationships in the early parenting years, including the postpartum period.
... While self-compassion interventions vary, several main self-compassion therapies have emerged with supporting RCT evidence [39]. For instance, Mindful Self-compassion (MSC) encourages embracing one's own suffering, with self-kindness, common humanity, and mindful awareness [33] and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) is thought to help people develop the capacity to tolerate emotions and build inner compassion [40]. ...
Article
Objective: Self-compassion - the tendency or ability to treat oneself kindly in times of failure or distress - may be a natural fit to support individuals who struggle with weight management. However, while self-compassion shows promise with improving health behaviours, the associations self-compassion has on weight management outcomes are unclear. The objective of this systematic review was three-fold: (1) to evaluate whether self-compassion interventions can increase individual self-compassion in the context of weight management, (2) to investigate if self-compassion interventions can improve weight management outcomes, defined as healthier eating, increased physical activity, or reduced weight and finally, (3) to explore whether these benefits can be sustained over the longer term. Methods: Following PRISMA guidelines, Scopus, PsycINFO, Medline, PubMed and Embase databases were searched. Studies including a measure of self-compassion and a self-compassion intervention reporting weight management outcomes were included. Studies in populations living with an eating disorder were excluded. The Quality Criteria Checklist from the American Dietetic Association was used to assess study quality. Prospero Registration #CRD42019146707. Results: Of the 9082 records screened, a total of 20 studies met inclusion criteria. Seventeen studies reported significant increases in self-compassion post-intervention. Improvements were also found for eating behaviours (15 of 18), physical activity behaviours (6 of 9), and weight loss (6 of 11). The majority of improvements were maintained at follow-up, except for physical activity behaviours (1 of 7). Conclusion: Self-compassion interventions tailored to weight management outcomes demonstrate efficacy with increasing self-compassion post-intervention. Methodological weaknesses and questions about the maintenance of any improvements in weight management outcomes limit our ability to make strong conclusions. However, there is promise and clear relevance for including self-compassion interventions to enhance weight management outcomes; directions for improved intervention and study design are given.
... In this regard, the selfcompassion construct [30] allows for the operationalization, in a more precise way, of some specific strategies that have proven healthy or harmful. Although these strategies are originally connected with different theoretical models [31], Neff incorporated them into the same construct and provided evidence that both compassionate and reduced uncompassionate selfresponding contribute to healthy psychological functioning [32,33]. ...
Article
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Volunteers have played an important role by supporting essential services that have been overwhelmed during the most critical moments of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Hence, nonprofit organizations may be interested in preventing negative consequences of these volunteers’ exposure to potentially traumatic events. The aim of this cross-sectional study was twofold. First, to examine to what extent self-compassion and self-determination would contribute to differentiating between volunteers with different levels of compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, and post-traumatic growth. Second, to identify the best predictors of the most extreme levels of each outcome. Participants were 211 Spanish Red Cross volunteers (60.7% women), who completed a survey. They were separately classified into three groups (low, medium, and high) according to the 33rd and 66th percentile scores on each outcome (compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, and post-traumatic growth). Univariate analyses of variance and post-hoc comparisons revealed that self-compassion and self-determination contributed differently to distinguishing between levels of each outcome. Volunteers lowest in compassion fatigue stood out for showing fewer non-compassionate strategies and more mindfulness than the other groups. Moreover, those higher in satisfaction compassion also showed lower use of unhealthy strategies and higher scores in all other predictive variables. Volunteers highest in post-traumatic growth showed higher self-kindness and satisfaction of all psychological needs. Binary logistic regressions allowed for the identification of predictors of belonging to the most extreme groups. The protective factors may be useful to guide volunteers’ self-care and help them thrive in the face of critical service demands.
... Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB), Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT), and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) (Kirby, 2017). ...
Article
The youth corrections system is in need of reform. Emerging work from the field of positive criminology is working to shift the focus from retribution and risk management to strengths building and positive youth development. Research suggests, targeted strategies from positive psychology can provide youth with opportunities to counteract the potentially deleterious effects of incarceration, especially as adolescent neurobehavioral development offers a ripe opportunity for positive interventions that enhance wellbeing. Strengths-based compassion, the proposed positive intervention described within, uses mindfulness, character strengths, and the cultivation of compassion to improve self-regulation and self-discipline, increase self-esteem, improve social skills, and reduce recidivism. The proposed eight-week program is designed through a trauma-responsive lens that has been adapted for youth in a correctional facility and creates the potential for revolutionary change in the hearts and minds of young offenders. This change positions youth on a productive path in which they desist from future criminal activity and increase pathways for flourishing in their lives after incarceration.
... It was initially developed as a transdiagnostic approach for people high in shame and self-criticism who had often struggled with difficult and traumatic experiences in their lives [10,14,15]. Outcome studies have shown that CFT may be an effective psychological treatment for a variety of difficulties [2,18,19], including working with members of the general public [7]. ...
Article
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The aim of the study was to assess the efficacy and feasibility of a newly designed online self-compassion training programme for the general public. Two hundred and forty-nine participants were randomly assigned to have either immediate or delayed access to a four-week online self-compassion training programme. This programme was based on Compassionate Mind Training and was made up of psychoeducational sessions and in-between session practices and readings. Out of the 179 participants who completed the pre-intervention measures, 81 participants completed the waiting list control design (45.25%; 52 participants from the waiting list group and 29 from the intervention group) and 50 participants went on to complete the intervention (27.9%; i.e., combining the 21 participants from the waiting list group that completed the intervention with the 29 from the intervention group). Compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group showed statistically significant increases in self-compassion and well-being and significant decreases in uncompassionate attitude towards self, shame, self-criticism, depression, anxiety, stress, levels of fear of compassion and attachment avoidance and anxiety. These effects remained at a one month follow up (based on data from 31 participants who completed these measures). The number of sessions completed was significantly predicted by baseline levels of well-being. This study provides promising results for the use of online self-compassion interventions to improve the mental wellbeing of the general public. However, further research is now needed to help understand the barriers to engagement and to help tailor its format to better suit participants who disengaged.
... Although the emotions individuals experience following the activation of the threat system can help them to enact self-protection strategies (e.g., fight or flight), individuals with over-activated threat system are prone to emotional problems such as anxiety and depression (Gilbert, 2009). In contrast, well-developed safeness system can help individuals to regulate negative emotions arising from the activation of the threat system by receiving compassion from others and/or being self-compassionate (Gilbert, 2009;Kirby, 2017). ...
Article
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Although previous research has found the impact of fears of compassion on eating disorders, the mechanism underlying the relationship between fears of compassion and emotional eating remains to be examined. This study aimed to examine the mediating role of emotion regulation difficulties in the relationships between fears of compassion and emotional eating in college students, as well as the gender difference in the mediation model. The Fears of Compassion Scale, Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale, and Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire were completed by 673 college students in Fujian Province, China. Structural Equation Modeling was primarily employed to analyze the data. The results showed that both fear of compassion for self and fear of compassion from others were positively associated with emotion regulation difficulties, which in turn were related to emotional eating for female college students. Emotion regulation difficulties played a significant mediating effect in the relationship between fears of compassion and emotional eating. Comparatively, for male college students, only fear of compassion for self was positively associated with emotion regulation difficulties, but emotion regulation difficulties were not related to emotion eating. Moreover, the mediating effect of emotion regulation difficulties was not significant in the relationship between fears of compassion and emotion eating for male college students. The findings suggest that it is important to improve individuals’ fears of compassion to reduce emotional eating, particularly for female college students.
... It is argued that the 'third wave' of cognitive behavioural therapies have a positive effect in the therapeutic process than the existing cognitive behavioural therapy tools [19]. There is some evidence that using therapeutic approaches to increase an individual's self-compassion is an effective intervention to improve parent and child wellbeing and mental health with a range of populations [16,20,21]. Additionally, evidence supports the acceptability and utility of selfcompassion resources and using self-compassion focused therapy (CFT) to support mothers' wellbeing in the first years of their baby's life [22]. ...
Preprint
Exploring the methodology used to assess the influence of providing self-compassion education and training for parents and/or families when caring for their children: A systematic review protocol
... This reduction is considered a secondary outcome related to improvements in self-compassion, stress and (acceptance of) affect, resulting from the training program. These findings correspond with results of previous studies, that demonstrated positive outcomes of compassion-based interventions [25,33,34], and tentatively indicate that they, if confirmed in a clinical experimental design, may be extended to patients with SSD. As a second focus, we examined whether a change in dynamic symptom networks may increase insight into individual improvements, based on the assumption that changed dynamic patterns of (time-lagged or contemporaneous) concurrency could reflect therapeutic process changes. ...
Article
Objective Pre-to-post mean group differences of intermittently assessed generic outcome variables may not capture all relevant treatment-related changes in individual patients with somatic symptom disorder (SSD). Aim of this multiple single-case observational pilot project was to find out whether the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and dynamic symptom networks may offer new opportunities in evaluating treatment outcomes for individual patients with SSD. Methods Patients with SSD (N = 6 in study 1, N = 7 in study 2) received a self-compassion training in a tertiary care mental health expert center. Using a single-case pre-post treatment observational design, intensive longitudinal data were collected with ESM. A brief questionnaire was presented via the patient's smartphone three times per day for 16 weeks before, during and after the training in study 1, and for 5 weeks before and 5 weeks after the training in study 2. Eleven questions comprised somatic symptoms, functional disability, stress, self-compassion, and acceptance of affect; three personalized questions comprised self-chosen affects and an additional symptom. Results Sufficient observations for means and network comparison were obtained for 11 and 10 patients, respectively. After the training, self-compassion was significantly increased in 10 patients, functional disability, stress and affect improved in 6 patients, and (although not a treatment goal) somatic symptoms decreased in 6 patients. Dynamic symptom networks significantly changed in 5 patients. Conclusion Patient-specific changes in means and dynamic symptom networks were observed after self-compassion training. In future clinical trials, single-case ESM may offer new opportunities to evaluate treatment outcomes in patients with SSD.
... As the ability to recognise another's distress or suffering, along with the motivation to help alleviate those issues, compassion is central to healthcare [3]. Although the volume of research in this area has grown rapidly, there is a lack of consistent nomenclature and agreement regarding definitions of compassion and related issues [4][5]. Compassion is related to other concepts such as empathy, sympathy, and pity, however, there are some subtle but important differences [6][7]. ...
Article
Introduction: There is a lack of research on compassion within paramedicine practice despite it being a fundamental component of healthcare. Existing studies have focussed primarily on the related concept of empathy. Additionally, the concept of common humanity has been suggested as a core component of compassion, and it informs the assessment scale utilised in the present study. Methods: An Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) was performed on the 9-item Compassionate Love Scale for Humanity (CLS-H-SF), using a convenience sample of paramedicine students from an Australian university. Results: A total of 225 students completed the study (55% response rate). EFA of the CLS-H-SF supported a one-factor solution with all items being retained and accounted for 53.26% of the total explained variance. The Cronbach alpha coefficient for the 9-items was α .909 indicating excellent internal consistency. Discussion: Factor analysis supported results from a previous psychometric examination of the CLS-H-SF, indicating that the scale shows strong psychometric properties. The literature has also reported other abridged versions of the original 21-item scale; however, these have not been tested within a paramedicine cohort. Conclusion: This evaluation suggests that the CLS-H-SF demonstrates robust psychometric characteristics when used in an Australian paramedic student cohort. Although further examination is warranted, it appears that the CLS-H-SF may be a valuable tool to examine compassion within paramedicine students.
... Interventions range from structured, multi-week group trainings to brief, single session interventions. Kirby (2017) has provided thoughtful summarizations of these approaches. ...
Article
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Objectives Self-compassion interventions are increasingly used to address mental and physical health outcomes in individuals with chronic illness. This review integrates the available evidence to (1) determine the extent to which self-compassion interventions improve mental and physical health among adults with chronic illness, (2) investigate moderators of effect size, and (3) situate the current findings in the context of current practice of evidence-based approaches.Methods Randomized and non-randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that evaluated self-compassion interventions among samples of adults with chronic illness (N = 21) were included in a meta-analysis that employed random effects models. Outcomes included depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, pain, quality of life, and self-compassion.ResultsOverall, the studies included in the review were of low quality. Findings provided evidence that self-compassion interventions improved all within-person outcomes from pre- to post-intervention. In addition, self-compassion interventions had small effects on improvement in self-compassion compared to controls. Initial results showed small effects on improvement in depressive symptoms compared to controls, which became nonsignificant after trim-and-fill analyses. Length of intervention was a moderator of within-subject depressive symptoms and type of control condition and age were moderators of within-subject self-compassion.Conclusions Compared to current evidence-based approaches, self-compassion interventions have small effects on improved self-compassion in individuals with chronic illness. However, more rigorous RCTs that include follow-up assessments are needed prior to determining whether self-compassion interventions are an effective treatment for co-morbid mental and physical health challenges among adults with chronic illness.
... One of the core themes of CFT is that if, in psychotherapy, we are unable to access these basic physiological systems that evolved to help regulate threat-based processing, the effect of applying purely behavioral or cognitive interventions may be limited. By engaging in psychological and somatic practices that activate these neurophysiological systems, e.g., imagery exercises, soothing rhythm breathing, the parasympathetic nervous system may be engaged, resulting in decreases in depression, shame, and feelings of social marginalization (among other common psychological difficulties) and increases in overall wellbeing (Kirby, 2017). ...
Article
Hoarding Disorder (HD) was formally recognized as a mental health diagnosis in 2013. A number of therapeutic methods have been developed and tailored for HD, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). The aims of this article are threefold: First, to provide a description of the rationale of developing a group CFT protocol for HD (CFT-HD); Second, to introduce the theoretical framework, treatment targets, and techniques of CFT-HD; Third and finally, to share existing empirical evidence of CFT-HD, and an ongoing study on CFT-HD conducted in a private practice setting. Implications of the development of and research findings on CFT-HD, as well as future directions, are discussed.
... Some studies have emerged aiming to clarify the definition and assessment of compassion (Gilbert, 2020;Goetz et al., 2010;Strauss et al., 2016;Neff, 2016). Research has documented that compassion is associated with biopsychological, physical and emotional well-being indicators and prosocial qualities and behaviors (e.g., Hall et al., 2013;Klimecki et al., 2014;MacBeth & Gumley, 2012;Kirby, 2017;Gilbert et al., 2019;Weng et al., , 2018, and has empirically supported the efficacy of compassionate-based interventions (e.g., Jazaieri et al., 2013;Neff & Germer, 2013;Kirby et al., 2017). Compassion has also become a focus for developments in psychotherapy (e.g., Gilbert, 2000Gilbert, , 2010Neff & Germer, 2013;Kirby et al., 2017). ...
Article
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The development of self-report instruments assessing the different facets of compassion adapted for different age groups is crucial for research and clinical practice. This study examined the factor structure and psychometric properties of the adaptation to adolescents of the Compassionate Engagement and Action Scales (CEAS-A) in a sample of 674 Portuguese adolescents. Confirmatory factor analyses showed that the factor structure of the CEAS-A was similar to the one found in the adults’ version, with higher-order factor models encompassing two first/s-order factors in each scale (Engagement and Actions). The CEAS-A revealed good construct validity, reliability, and temporal stability. Gender differences were found in Self-compassion and Compassion for Other scales. Path analysis results indicated that self-criticism had a direct negative impact on adolescents’ life satisfaction, whereas the impact of self-reassurance on life satisfaction was partially mediated by self-compassion and compassion from others. The CEAS-A is the first self-report instrument that allows for the assessment of the three different flows of compassion in adolescents and may be an important and useful tool for research and clinical practice.
... Multimodal evidence indicates that within an experimental group or population, compassion meditation interventions lead to both primary (e.g., compassion and altruism) and secondary benefits (e.g., hope and relationship satisfaction) for some people (Pace et al., 2009;Leiberg et al., 2011;Mascaro et al., 2012Mascaro et al., , 2016Mascaro et al., , 2021Wallmark et al., 2013;Bach and Guse, 2015;Roeser and Eccles, 2015;Hildebrandt et al., 2017;Kirby, 2017;Kirby et al., 2017;Matos et al., 2017;Brito-Pons et al., 2018;Luberto et al., 2018;Ash et al., 2020;Austin et al., 2021). However, individual outcomes vary widely, and causal mechanisms remain obscure. ...
Article
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Over the last decade, numerous interventions and techniques that aim to engender, strengthen, and expand compassion have been created, proliferating an evidence base for the benefits of compassion meditation training. However, to date, little research has been conducted to examine individual variation in the learning, beliefs, practices, and subjective experiences of compassion meditation. This mixed-method study examines changes in novice meditators’ knowledge and contemplative experiences before, during, and after taking an intensive course in CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training), a contemplative intervention that is increasingly used for both inter- and intrapersonal flourishing. The participants in this study ( n = 40) were Christian healthcare chaplains completing a 1-year residency in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) who learned CBCT as part of their professional chaplaincy training curriculum. Prior to and upon completion of training, we surveyed participants to assess their beliefs about the malleability of compassion, types of engagement in compassion meditation, and perceptions of the impact of taking CBCT. We also conducted in-depth interviews with a subset of participants to gain a qualitative understanding of their subjective experiences of learning and practicing compassion meditation, a key component of CBCT. We found that participants reported increases in the extent to which they believed compassion to be malleable after studying CBCT. We also found high levels of variability of individual ways of practicing and considered the implications of this for the study of contemplative learning processes. This multi-methodological approach yielded novel insights into how compassion practice and compassion-related outcomes interrelate, insights that can inform the basic scientific understanding of the experience of learning and enacting compassion meditation as a means of strengthening compassion itself.
... Therapies which focus on developing compassion for self and others offer another pathway to change (Kirby, 2017). Rather than focus on reducing negative affect or cognitions, they try to increase calm, positive, affiliative affect, and a caring relationship with oneself. ...
Article
Background PTSD, depression and anxiety are common in survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and intimate-partner violence (IPV). Since shame and self-criticism maintain these difficulties, compassion-based therapies may be effective, but have not yet been adapted for this population. This study sought to identify self-perceptions of women who had experienced IPV or GBV in familial relationships, to determine areas in which compassion-based interventions might be helpful for this population. Additionally, it evaluated participants’ opinions of a compassion-based therapy group regarding the usefulness of learned strategies and perceived barriers to cultivating self-compassion. Method A 5-session compassion-based therapy group for IPV /GBV survivors was developed. Four groups were conducted with 18 Colombian women reporting past/current IPV/GBV. Session transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results Self-criticism, low self-compassion and prioritizing others’ needs were common among participants. Participants valued various techniques they learned (e.g., soothing breathing, compassionate self-talk) as well as hearing other group participants’ experiences. Conclusions Group compassion-based therapy was acceptable for this population, even when gender violence is a sociocultural norm. Barriers to change and solutions are identified and discussed.
... There is growing interest in the efficacy of compassionbased interventions (CBIs). Most CBIs share a focus on contemplative practices designed to cultivate compassion for diverse others (as well as compassion for oneself) (Kirby, 2017). A meta-analysis of 21 CBI randomized controlled trials indicated consistent training-related increases in selfreported compassion . ...
Article
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Contemplative interventions designed to cultivate compassion are receiving increasing empirical attention. Accumulating evidence suggests that these interventions bolster prosocial motivation and warmth toward others. Less is known about how these practices impact compassion in everyday life. Here we consider one mechanistic pathway through which compassion practices may impact perception and action in the world: simulation. Evidence suggests that vividly imagining a situation simulates that experience in the brain as if it were, to a degree, actually happening. Thus, we hypothesize that simulation during imagery-based contemplative practices can construct sensorimotor patterns in the brain that prime an individual to act compassionately in the world. We first present evidence across multiple literatures in psychology that motivates this hypothesis, including the neuroscience of mental imagery and the emerging literature on prosocial episodic simulation. Then, we examine the specific contemplative practices in compassion-based interventions that may construct such simulations. We conclude with future directions for investigating how compassion-based interventions may shape prosocial perception and action in everyday life.
... Finally, MBIs have evolved to incorporate modules of compassion, a construct that has gained great interest in the Western part of the world in recent decades [16]. In Western psychology, compassion is a complex construct that involves cognitive, affective, and behavioural characteristics motivating one to alleviate the suffering of another being [17]. ...
Article
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The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the effectiveness of a 6-week workplace mindfulness- and self-compassion-based intervention (MSCBI) on perceived stress, burnout, immune functioning (assessed with the biomarker Immunoglobulin A), self-compassion, and experiential avoidance compared to aWorkplace Stress Management Intervention. Both interventions were contextual, i.e., they were carried out in the workplace setting and during working hours. We followed a randomised controlled trial study design. The total sample was composed of 24 employees of an automotive company. One-way analyses of covariance between groups revealed significant differences in post-intervention levels of perceived stress, salivary Immunoglobulin A (sIgA), emotional exhaustion, self-compassion, and experiential avoidance, after adjusting for pre-test scores. The results of this study have several implications. Firstly, it confirms that MSCBIs might be more effective than regular psychoeducational interventions for work-related stress and burnout treatment. Secondly, sIgA can be used to assess immune function state changes when MSCBIs are carried out. Furthermore, these results indicate that it is feasible to carry out MSCBIs within companies and during working hours, and that these interventions can help effectively manage stress and burnout associated with the work environment.
... In addition, they incorporate established mind-body practices such as mindfulness, breathing and guided meditation exercises designed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system -the body's in-built neurophysiological response associated with slowing the 'fight/flight' system (4,14). Applications of these techniques within specific clinical models such as compassionate mind training (CMT) have seen a burgeoning interest within prevention and treatment-focused contexts, with increasing research showing efficacy for reducing depression and anxiety within various contexts and delivered using multiple formats including digital technology (14,15). ...
... Outside of the Buddhist literature, compassion itself can be traced to the Latin root pati, which means to suffer, with the prefix com meaning with, thus compassion or compati means to suffer with (Goetz et al., 2010). In the scientific community, there have been several review papers examining the differing definitions of compassion (Gilbert, 2019;Goetz et al., 2010;Strauss et al., 2016), and although there is no universally agreed definition, all emphasized the importance of (1) engaging with suffering and (2) acting to alleviate it (Kirby, 2016;Mascaro et al., 2020). A definition of compassion that captures these two aspects is provided by Gilbert (2014), who defined compassion as, "the sensitivity to suffering in self and others with a commitment to try alleviate and prevent it" (p. ...
Article
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Objectives Kindness and compassion are prosocial constructs aimed at benefiting others, with the former focused on happiness and the latter on suffering. Despite these distinctly different motivations, kindness and compassion are often used interchangeably. If compassion and kindness are different processes, they should respond differently to the same facilitators and inhibitors, with a key moderator being likeability. Methods We used a cross-sectional survey design to examine whether a target that differed in terms of likeability (liked versus disliked) influenced willingness to engage in kind acts compared to compassionate acts, and the emotional patterns experienced. We recruited 150 participants (83 men, 66 women, 1 other; M age = 27.85, SD = 10.21) using an online survey platform. Results Participants reported less willingness to engage in acts of kindness compared to acts of compassion regardless of target likeability. However, this reduction in willingness was markedly greater for disliked targets. Compassionate acts towards liked targets were associated with significantly higher levels of negative emotions (e.g., irritation, sadness, anger, anxiety, and disgust) when compared to kind acts. Conversely, compassionate acts towards disliked targets elicited less feelings of irritation and anger compared to kind acts. Conclusions These findings indicate that kindness and compassion result from separable motivational systems, differing in both the emotions elicited and the willingness to act. Reluctance in helping disliked others is reduced when the action is aimed at reducing suffering.
... Significantly, compassion was not only shown towards known others but also exhibited during interactions with strangers. We suggest that the intimate nature of biosignals is likely to enhance sensitivity to others' suffering, which aligns with research showing that the human affiliative motivational system facilitates compassion with others [66]. We also put forward another explanation: because physiological signals may be more understandable when they represent high arousal (e.g., the meaning of a high HR is more intuitive than low HR), it could be that social biofeedback inherently helps make users aware of states of suffering (e.g., stressed [20]), more so than positive states. ...
Conference Paper
As an emerging interaction paradigm, physiological computing is increasingly being used to both measure and feed back information about our internal psychophysiological states. While most applications of physiological computing are designed for individual use, recent research has explored how biofeedback can be socially shared between multiple users to augment human-human communication. Reflecting on the empirical progress in this area of study, this paper presents a systematic review of 64 studies to characterize the interaction contexts and effects of social biofeedback systems. Our findings highlight the importance of physio-temporal and social contextual factors surrounding physiological data sharing as well as how it can promote social-emotional competences on three different levels: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and task-focused. We also present the Social Biofeedback Interactions framework to articulate the current physiological-social interaction space. We use this to frame our discussion of the implications and ethical considerations for future research and design of social biofeedback interfaces.
... A prominent exponent of this idea is Paul Gilbert, whose work on shame and self-criticism (Gilbert, 2000) contributed to the development of compassionate mind training (Gilbert & Proctor, 2006) and compassion-focused therapy (CFT; Gilbert, 2009). Self-compassion is identified within various psychotherapeutic approaches (Kirby, 2017;Germer & Neff, 2013) and forms the basis of several interventions, which show promising efficacy for alleviating symptoms of psychopathology and increasing feelings of well-being (Athanasakou et al., 2020;Baer, 2010;Wilson et al., 2018), including amongst family members of people with mental illness (Hansen et al., 2021). Accordingly, it has been proposed that children and adult children of parents who experience mental illness could benefit from interventions to enhance their engagement in self-compassion (Dunkley- Smith, Reupert et al., 2021;Dunkley-Smith, Sheen et al., 2021). ...
Article
Objectives: Individuals who have a parent with mental illness are more likely to experience mental illness than their contemporaries. As such, it is valuable to examine potential psychological resources, which might assist these individuals to experience good mental health throughout their lifespan. We aimed to learn how clinicians perceive self-compassion, and how it can be incorporated into therapy with clients who have parents with mental illness. Design: A qualitative interview design was employed to explore clinicians' perspectives and experiences. Methods: Eight mental health clinicians experienced in working with clients who have parents with mental illness were interviewed. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to establish themes representing the clinicians' perspectives and experiences of incorporating self-compassion into their work. Results: This study found that clinicians were generally positive about incorporating self-compassion into interventions with clients who are children of parents with mental illness. The participants noted barriers to self-compassion for these clients, namely a poor sense of self and divided loyalty between self and family. Participants recommended taking time and care, building rapport and involving others when cultivating self-compassion with those who have parents with mental illness. Conclusions: This group of clinicians viewed self-compassion as relevant to clients whose parents have mental illness and believe it can be introduced therapeutically in various ways. Suggestions are made for tailoring self-compassion training to the needs and experiences of this group.
... As both CFT and psilocybin-assisted therapy are stimulating connectedness and social safeness, they can augment each other and provide a solid framework for the treatment of depression. Research indicates that some individuals have difficulties with developing compassion, particularly those who have an insecure attachment style and high self-criticism (Kamboj et al., 2015;Kirby, 2017;Steffen et al., 2021). They can experience negative impacts of compassionate imagery, partly because compassion can stimulate the caring system which may have trauma memories. ...
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Psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, i.e., psilocybin treatment with psychological support, has demonstrated the efficacy of psilocybin to reduce depressive symptoms. However, in clinical trials, the structure of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy is primarily based on preparation, navigation (support during dosing sessions), and integration. For psychotherapeutic guidance, the application of this structure is favored over the usage of theoretical models. The applied psychotherapeutic models may be of critical importance if the effects are augmented due to the psychologically insightful experiences during the navigation and integration sessions. One of the important next steps is to provide therapists with guidance on how to provide psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. We present an integrated protocol for psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for depression based on the theoretical model and psychotherapeutic framework of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). We hypothesize that CFT can provide the theoretical model and compassion practices that will reinforce the experiences during the navigation and follow-up therapy sessions. In this paper, we describe the rationale for selecting CFT, the compatibility of CFT and psilocybin-therapy, an overview of the psilocybin-assisted CFT protocol, the study protocol, and limitations to this approach.
... Significantly, compassion was not only shown towards known others but also exhibited during interactions with strangers. We suggest that the intimate nature of biosignals is likely to enhance sensitivity to others' suffering, which aligns with research showing that the human affiliative motivational system facilitates compassion with others [66]. We also put forward another explanation: because physiological signals may be more understandable when they represent high arousal (e.g., the meaning of a high HR is more intuitive than low HR), it could be that social biofeedback inherently helps make users aware of states of suffering (e.g., stressed [20]), more so than positive states. ...
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As an emerging interaction paradigm, physiological computing is increasingly being used to both measure and feed back information about our internal psychophysiological states. While most applications of physiological computing are designed for individual use, recent research has explored how biofeedback can be socially shared between multiple users to augment human-human communication. Reflecting on the empirical progress in this area of study, this paper presents a systematic review of 64 studies to characterize the interaction contexts and effects of social biofeedback systems. Our findings highlight the importance of physio-temporal and social contextual factors surrounding physiological data sharing as well as how it can promote social-emotional competences on three different levels: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and task-focused. We also present the Social Biofeedback Interactions framework to articulate the current physiological-social interaction space. We use this to frame our discussion of the implications and ethical considerations for future research and design of social biofeedback interfaces.
... Research has demonstrated CFT's effectiveness for a wide range of therapeutic issues (see Craig et al., 2020;Kirby, 2017;Leaviss and Uttley, 2015 for reviews). Importantly, CFT is effective in reducing shame and self-hating self-criticism (Au et al., 2017;Gilbert and Procter, 2006), which are common and lasting effects of CSA and perpetuating factors in ongoing post-trauma symptomatology (Feiring & Taska, 2005;Finkelhor & Browne, 1985;Whiffen & MacIntosh, 2005). ...
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Objectives The adverse effects of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are often significant and enduring. It is therefore important to identify therapeutic interventions that can effectively minimize these effects. Compassion focused therapy (CFT) was originally developed for people with high levels of self-criticism and shame. It holds significant promise as an intervention for survivors of CSA, but has not yet been empirically tested. This study explored both the acceptability and preliminary efficacy of a CFT group intervention (CFT-SA) for adult female survivors of CSA. Methods CFT-SA was developed and tested with adult female survivors of CSA, to determine if there was any change in outcome measure scores after participating in the 12-week intervention ( n = 30) and at 3-month post-intervention follow-up ( n = 25). Results Low attrition and high session attendance, in addition to positive participant feedback, suggested the program had high acceptability. Significant improvement was observed across all outcome variables from pre- to post-intervention ( n = 30), which were maintained at follow-up ( n = 25). Participants demonstrated increased self-compassion and self-reassurance, and reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress, shame, and self-criticism, as well as fears of compassion, depression, anxiety, and stress, with medium to large effect sizes ( d = .55 to 1.36). Across all measures, between 20 and 57% of participants demonstrated reliable change pre- to post-intervention, and 22 to 57% from pre-intervention to follow-up. Conclusions This study provides preliminary support for the acceptability and potential benefits of utilizing CFT-SA as an intervention for adult female survivors of CSA and offers recommendations for future research. Trial Registration. Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12616001041448.
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Recognition of important psychological factors in coping with difficulty is considered as an important factor in the development of positive interventions to achieve sports self-fulfillment. Self-sufficiency and cognitive regulation of emotion are important factors that are effective in coping with unpleasant events. In a difficult event such as failure in sports is not considered. Therefore The purpose of this study was to model the structural equation of relationship between self -compassion and emotional reactions to failure as mediated by cognitive emotion regulation among martial arts. A total of 286 athlete (191 men and 95 women; age: 20.98±3.30 years) from different disciplines of martial arts (taekwondo, karate, Judo and wushu) engaged in league championship participated in the study. Athlete completed self-report measures of self-compassion (SCS), negative affect (PANAS), and cognitive emotion regulation (CERQ). The proposed model was evaluated using structural equation model. Result revealed that self-compassion has direct and indirect effects on emotional reactions to failure. Furthermore, cognitive emotion regulation a partial negative mediator between the self-compassion and emotional reactions to failure. This study indicates that self-compassion is a relevant construct for understanding athletes’emotional responses to failure problems and cognitive emotion regulation strategies are involved as underlying mechanisms in this process. Therefore, it suggests paying attention to growth of self-compassion in martial arts and emphasizing on improving adaptive emotion regulation and reducing incompatible emotion regulation in order to recover better from failure and reduce its negative effects.
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Burgeoning organizational research has begun to explore how self‐compassion or the compassion individuals give to themselves in times of suffering may positively contribute to organizational outcomes. This review describes self‐compassion and its theoretical underpinnings in a workplace context, systematically reviews the current empirical literature on self‐compassion using samples of working adults, critically analyzes the current state of the literature, and provides recommendations for robust future research. In the process, we offer a dynamic, process‐based conceptualization of self‐compassion that aligns past research with current directions in organizational compassion and several suggestions for using a processual approach to improve theoretical and empirical rigor. We also guide future scholarly work surrounding self‐compassion in organizations by highlighting fundamental research questions that could advance our theoretical understanding of self‐compassion in organizational contexts.
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It is important that children obtain not only academic knowledge but also skills to express emotion and sustain relationships. Fostering school communities that embody and teach compassion is increasingly recognized as an important component of many social and emotional learning (SEL) approaches. To generate SEL programs that are inclusive of diverse perspectives, it is critical to center community expertise. We engaged the framework of community-based participatory research (CBPR) to elicit Latina mothers’ perspectives on compassion in their lives and in their children’s school community. We used Photovoice, an art-based participatory action approach, in which participants were invited to create photographs that expressed their understanding of compassion. A subset of participants also participated in semi-structured exit interviews. The photographs, captions, and interviews were analyzed qualitatively. The results were conceptualized in terms of the themes of “definitions and conceptualization of compassion,” “family and community,” “communication,” and “nature.” Findings from this study inform an understanding of compassion focused SEL programs and implications for practice in schools through the cultural wealth of Latina mothers.
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Objectives The SafeSpace study codesigned and tested a virtual reality (VR) intervention, incorporating relaxation and compassionate mind training to determine acceptability/feasibility in an oncology setting and evaluate impact on physical/psychological well-being and quality of life. Design A two-phase study. Phase I determined key characteristics using an experienced-based codesign approach. Phase II evaluated the intervention using various measures and qualitative interviews in a mixed methods approach. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse measures data and framework analysis to analyse interviews. Setting A specialist cancer centre, UK. Participants 11 in phase I and 21 in phase II. Participants were in cancer treatment, recovery or palliative care. Primary and secondary outcome Primary outcome: acceptability of the intervention, assessed by >60% uptake of three sessions. Secondary outcomes: impact on psychological well-being using EQ-5D/QLQ-C30, Profile of Mood Scale, Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, Depression and Anxiety Severity Scale 21, Self-Compassion Scale, Acceptance and Action Questionnaire and a locally developed questionnaire to capture self-compassion post use. Physiological impact was assessed by change in heart rate (HR)/HR variability and electrodermal activity (EDA). Results Twenty participants (mean age=48.7 years; SD=16.87); 65% (n=13) completed three sessions. Mental well-being improved following each use and from baseline to after session 3 (VR 1—z=2.846, p≤0.01; VR 2—z=2.501, p≤0.01; VR 3—z=2.492, p≤0.01). There was statistically significant difference in mean scores for EDA at mid-session and post session compared with pre session ( F (1.658, 4.973)=13.364, p<0.05). There was statistically significant reduction in stress levels from baseline to post session 3. Participants found the intervention acceptable and highlighted areas for development. Conclusion The intervention is acceptable and feasible and has shown positive effects on mental well-being/stress in the oncology setting. Larger studies are needed to confirm findings.
Article
Objective This systematic review investigated compassion-based interventions and the extent to which they can assist with addressing body weight shame. Design The systematic review was pre-registered and conducted according to PRISMA guidelines. Seven electronic databases (PsycNET, Pubmed, Web of science, CINAHL, Scopus, ProQuest, Social Science Database) were searched. The methodological quality of studies was also assessed. Main Outcome Measures Main outcomes were body weight shame, and compassion. Secondary outcomes assessed were mental health, eating attitudes and behaviours, physical exercise and Body Mass Index and weight. Results 25 studies (23 papers) met inclusion criteria and results indicated promise for compassion-based interventions for body weight shame, compassion, and health related behaviour. Mixed results were found for BMI and weight. The studies varied considerably in terms of populations targeted, the duration of interventions, and intervention delivery.Conclusion: Overall, compassion-based interventions were found to reduce body weight shame and improve levels of compassion. However, the impact of compassion-based interventions on BMI and weight is less promising. Recommendations for future research are provided.
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This study assessed the feasibility and effectiveness of two brief online interventions for body shame for women with moderate to severe negative body image, to inform the design of a future randomized controlled trial. The primary feasibility outcomes were recruitment, measure completion rates, retention rates, and internet connection failure rates. The secondary pilot outcomes were change on clinical measures and state shame ratings during the interventions. Participants were randomized to either online (40‐minute single session) body‐exposure or self‐compassion interventions. Five validated nomothetic outcome measures (body dissatisfaction, appreciation, eating disorder, external shame, anxiety) were taken at three time points (pre‐intervention, post‐intervention, two‐week follow‐up). Subjective units of body shame (SUBS 0‐100 scale) were rated every five minutes during the interventions. The target of recruiting 30 participants in 60 days was successfully achieved. The measure completion rate was high (100%) and retention rates (80‐100%) showed moderate‐to‐high acceptability of the interventions. Online delivery was moderately viable with a 12.5% session disconnection rate. The self‐compassion intervention significantly reduced SUBS ratings during the course of the intervention, but there was no significant improvement or difference between the interventions on nomothetic outcome measures. Findings suggest that a fully powered trial is viable, and sample size calculation and methodological requirements are provided.
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Öz Merhamet, bir başkasının acısına tanıklık ederken ortaya çıkan ve daha sonra yardım etme arzusunu tetikleyen bir duygu durumudur. Bu araştırmada, merhamet konusuna ilişkin Türkiye’de yapılan araştırmaların çeşitli ölçütler açısından incelenmesi amaçlanmıştır. Bu araştırmada doküman analizi yöntemi kullanılmıştır. Bu kapsamda 2000-2020 yılları arasında merhamet konusunda yayınlanmış 84 çalışma incelenmiştir. Araştırma sonuçlarına göre merhamet konusunda 2000’li yılların başında herhangi bir çalışmanın yapılmadığı 2010-2014 yılları arasında ilk çalışmaların yapılmaya başlandığı ve 2018 yılından itibaren ise bu konudaki araştırmalarda önemli bir artış olduğu belirlenmiştir. Yapılmış araştırmaların katılımcılarının bir kısmını hemşireler ve üniversite öğrencileri oluşturmuşken, bazı araştırmalar kuramsal-derleme türünde yapılmıştır. Ayrıca araştırmaların büyük çoğunluğu 200’ün altındaki katılımcılarla gerçekleştirilmiştir. Araştırmalarda çoğunlukla ANOVA, t testi, Kruskal Wallis, Man Whitney U testi ve korelasyon analizi gibi temel istatistik teknikleri kullanılmıştır. Araştırmaların yarıdan fazlasında Merhamet Ölçeği uygulanmıştır. Ayrıca yapılmış araştırmaların büyük çoğunluğu sağlık ve sosyal hizmetler alanında gerçekleştirilmiş; son yıllarda ise eğitim, ruh sağlığı ve psikoloji alanında da araştırmalar yapılmıştır. ABSTRACT Compassion is an emotional state that arises when the person witnesses someone else's pain and then triggers a desire to help. In this study, it was aimed to investigate research about compassion conducted in Turkey in terms of various criteria. Document analysis method was used in this research. In this context, 84 studies published related to compassion between 2000 and 2020 were examined. According to findings of the research, it was determined that there were not any studies about compassion in the early 2000s but the first studies were started between 2010-2014 and there has been a significant increase in research on this subject since 2018. While participants of some research were nurses and university students, some studies were conducted in the form of theoretical review. Also, most of the research was conducted with less than 200 participants. Basic statistical techniques such as ANOVA, t-test, Kruskal Wallis, Mann Whitney U test and correlation analysis were mostly used in the studies The Compassion Scale was used as a data collection tool in more than half of the studies. In addition, most of the research has been conducted in the field of health and social services; In recent years, research has also been done in the fields of education, mental health and psychology.
Article
Objective: Self-compassion is a positive psychological construct characterized by extending compassion toward oneself, often during periods of suffering. Whereas self-compassion has been associated with psychological outcomes, research linking self-compassion to physical health is limited. We tested the hypothesis that greater self-compassion would be associated with less subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) as assessed by carotid intima-media thickness (IMT). We adjusted for demographics, CVD risk factors and additionally depressive symptoms in these associations. Method: Women (N = 195; M age = 59 years) without CVD were recruited. Women completed questionnaires (Neff Self-Compassion Scale, Center for Epidemiology Studies of Depression Scale); physical measures (body mass index [BMI], blood pressure [BP]); phlebotomy (lipids, insulin resistance); and ultrasound assessments of the carotid artery (mean, maximal IMT). Cross-sectional associations between self-compassion and IMT were assessed in linear regression models covarying for age, race/ethnicity, education, and CVD risk factors (BMI, BP, insulin resistance, lipids, medications), and additionally depressive symptoms. Results: Higher self-compassion was associated with lower mean IMT [B(SE)=-.03 (.01), p = .02], adjusting for demographic factors and CVD risk factors. Associations persisted adjusting for depressive symptoms. When considering self-compassion subscale bifactors, the positive self-compassion bifactor (self-compassion), but not negative self-compassion bifactor (self-coldness), was related to lower IMT. Conclusions: Self-compassion is associated with lower subclinical CVD. Associations were not explained by standard CVD risk factors nor by depressive symptoms. Future research should consider whether enhancing self-compassion improves women's vascular health. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Objectives: In this study, we analyzed the validation and effects of a brief intervention of Attachment-Based Compassion Therapy (ABCT). Specifically, the aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of this brief protocol in improving compassion and other related variables. Method: The intervention consists of two five-hour sessions, in a controlled trial with one intervention group (ABCT) and one control group. Before and after the intervention, a short questionnaire was administered, focused on compassion and other related variables (i.e. transcendence beliefs, happiness, endo-group solidarity, and global identity). Participants in the experimental group were 17 healthy adults (i.e., students and university teachers) attending a compassion intervention based on ABCT. The control group was composed of 44 participants who did not attend the intervention. Results: Results showed that, compared to the control group, the brief ABCT intervention significantly improved compassion, which was the main aim of the intervention, and further analysis showed that it also significantly increased transcendence beliefs and endo-group solidarity. Moreover, the ABCT intervention were empirically validated. Conclusions: These results confirm and validate the potential of a brief ABCT intervention.
Article
Growing evidence suggests that online positive-psychological interventions effectively increase well-being, and a wealth of evidence describes cognitive-affective responses to such interventions. Few studies, however, have directly compared responses across popular exercises such as the best-possible-self intervention, the gratitude letter, or self-compassionate writing. In addition, current evidence is ambiguous regarding the effects of potential moderator variables such as trait gratitude and emotional self-awareness. To address these issues, we randomized 432 German adults to perform either optimism, gratitude, self-compassion, or control writing interventions in an online setting. Participants reported trait gratitude and trait emotional self-awareness before the interventions, as well as momentary optimism, gratitude, self-compassion, positive affect, and current thoughts immediately after the interventions. Results indicate higher momentary optimism after the best-possible-self intervention and higher momentary gratitude after the gratitude letter than after the control task. There were no differences when comparing the best-possible-self intervention with the gratitude letter. Both interventions increased the number of positive self-relevant thoughts. The self-compassion condition showed no effects. Moderation analysis results indicate that neither emotional self-awareness nor trait gratitude moderated the intervention effects. Future studies should compare responses across different positive-psychological interventions using more comprehensive exercises to ensure larger effects.
Article
Purpose This study aimed to determine the effects of spiritual well-being of perioperative nurses on their compassion. Design This was a prospective and cross-sectional study. Methods The sample for this study included 168 perioperative nurses working in the surgical clinics of a research hospital. Data was collected between August and October 2020 using “Nurses' Descriptive Characteristics, Compassion and Three-factor Spiritual Well-Being Scales”. Descriptive statistics, correlation and simple regression analysis were used to analyze the data. Findings Our sample included 51% between the ages of 22 and 30, 85.7% women, 73.8% undergraduates, 33.3% general surgery clinicians, and 41.7% with a work experience of 5 to 9 years. Perioperative nurses were found to have moderate compassion and close to a good level spiritual well-being. Although all the descriptive features of the nurses contributed to their spiritual well-being, it was determined that the education level, the clinics they worked in and their working years in the profession were important factors in determining their compassion. Positive correlation was found between the Compassion and Spiritual Well-Being Scales (r = 1.000; P < .05). Conclusions We found that the spiritual well-being of perioperative nurses had an effect on compassion. Every patient deserves compassionate care. If spirituality increases compassion, it is acceptable for nurses to increase their awareness and knowledge of spiritual values.
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Empathy is a critical factor in counseling, yet the process of empathizing with suffering can have a detrimental impact on counselor well‐being. In the wake of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19), the need for strategies to ameliorate this potential negative impact is even more apparent. This article explores compassion practices to meet that need.
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Objective: Compassion is important to patients and their families, predicts positive patient and practitioner outcomes, and is a professional requirement of physicians around the globe. Yet, despite the value placed on compassion, the empirical study of compassion remains in its infancy and little is known regarding what compassion 'looks like' to patients. The current study addresses limitations in prior work by asking patients what physicians do that helps them feel cared for. Methods: Topic modelling analysis was employed to identify empirical commonalities in the text responses of 767 patients describing physician behaviours that led to their feeling cared for. Results: Descriptively, seven meaningful groupings of physician actions experienced as compassion emerged: listening and paying attention (71% of responses), following-up and running tests (11%), continuity and holistic care (8%), respecting preferences (4%), genuine understanding (2%), body language and empathy (2%) and counselling and advocacy (1%). Conclusion: These findings supplement prior work by identifying concrete actions that are experienced as caring by patients. These early data may provide clinicians with useful information to enhance their ability to customize care, strengthen patient-physician relationships and, ultimately, practice medicine in a way that is experienced as compassionate by patients. Public contribution: This study involves the analysis of data provided by a diverse sample of patients from the general community population of New Zealand.
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Objectives Schools are experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis, with teachers reporting high levels of stress and burnout, which has adverse consequences to their mental and physical health. Addressing mental and physical health problems and promoting wellbeing in educational settings is thus a global priority. This study investigated the feasibility and effectiveness of an 8-week Compassionate Mind Training program for Teachers (CMT-T) on indicators of psychological and physiological wellbeing. Methods A pragmatic randomized controlled study with a stepped-wedge design was conducted in a sample of 155 public school teachers, who were randomized to CMT-T ( n = 80) or a waitlist control group (WLC; n = 75). Participants completed self-report measures of psychological distress, burnout, overall and professional wellbeing, compassion and self-criticism at baseline, post-intervention, and 3-months follow-up. In a sub-sample (CMT-T, n = 51; WLC n = 36) resting heart-rate variability (HRV) was measured at baseline and post-intervention. Results CMT-T was feasible and effective. Compared to the WLC, the CMT-T group showed improvements in self-compassion, compassion to others, positive affect, and HRV as well as reductions in fears of compassion, anxiety and depression. WLC participants who received CMT-T revealed additional improvements in compassion for others and from others, and satisfaction with professional life, along with decreases in burnout and stress. Teachers scoring higher in self-criticism at baseline revealed greater improvements post CMT-T. At 3-month follow-up improvements were retained. Conclusions CMT-T shows promise as a compassion-focused intervention for enhancing compassion, wellbeing and reducing psychophysiological distress in teachers, contributing to nurturing compassionate, prosocial and resilient educational environments. Given its favourable and sustainable effects on wellbeing and psychophysiological distress, and low cost to deliver, broader implementation and dissemination of CMT-T is encouraged.
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Compassion-focused therapy was developed by Paul Gilbert as a means of addressing psychological difficulties underpinned by shame and self-criticism. The model draws on social, neurophysiological and evolutionary theory (especially attachment theory) to seek to understand emotional regulation and our basic social motivational systems. It postulates the benefit of mindfully developing compassion, thus activating our ‘affiliative/soothing system’, to balance our affect regulating systems, particularly in response to threat. In recent years there has been a growing evidence base for the approach, and the application of compassion- based initiatives has been used with NHS staff teams, the armed forces, business settings and within education. Compassion-based approaches within education settings offer a potential means of generating greater psychological well-being for students, staff, parents and the wider community whilst also protecting and enhancing the priorities of the settings in which they are applied. Thus they represent an intervention which is systemic and universal. This paper provides an overview of compassion-focused therapy together with examples of how compassion-based initiatives are carried out in contexts of relevance to the work of educational psychologists. Keywords: Compassion; compassion-focused therapy; mindfulness.
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Most forms of psychological distress encompass both the relation to the self in the form of shame and self-criticism, as well as the relation to others in the form of distance and isolation. These are often longstanding and pervasive problems that permeate a wide range of psychological disorders and are difficult to treat. This paper focuses on how problems with shame and self-criticism can be addressed using compassion focused therapy (CFT). In a pilot study we tested the effectiveness of CFT with a single case experimental design in six individuals suffering from social anxiety. The aim was to establish whether CFT lead to increases in self-compassion, and reductions in shame, self-criticism and social anxiety. Moreover, the aim was to investigate to what extent participants were satisfied and experienced CFT as helpful in coping with social anxiety and in increasing self-compassion. Taken together the preliminary results show that CFT is a promising approach. CFT was effective for 3 of 6 participants, probably effective for 1 of 6 and more questionably effective for 2 of 6 participants. These results add to the empirical evidence that CFT is a promising approach to address problems with self-compassion. This research body is as of yet small, and more studies are needed.
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The importance of compassion is widely recognized and it is receiving increasing research attention. Yet, there is lack of consensus on definition and a paucity of psychometrically robust measures of this construct. Without an agreed definition and adequate measures, we cannot study compassion, measure compassion or evaluate whether interventions designed to enhance compassion are effective. In response, this paper proposes a definition of compassion and offers a systematic review of self- and observer-rated measures. Following consolidation of existing definitions, we propose that compassion consists of five elements: recognizing suffering, understanding the universality of human suffering, feeling for the person suffering, tolerating uncomfortable feelings, and motivation to act/acting to alleviate suffering. Three databases were searched (Web of Science, PsycInfo, and Medline) and nine measures included and rated for quality. Quality ratings ranged from 2 to 7 out of 14 with low ratings due to poor internal consistency for subscales, insufficient evidence for factor structure and/or failure to examine floor/ceiling effects, test-retest reliability, and discriminant validity. We call for empirical testing of our five-element definition, and if supported, the development of a measure of compassion based on this operational definition, which demonstrates adequate psychometric properties.
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To date, there is no evidence suggesting that a program aimed at increasing self-compassion is effective in interdependent cultures such as Japan. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of an Enhancing Self-Compassion Program (ESP) among Japanese individuals in a randomized controlled study. Individuals reporting low self-compassion (N = 40) were randomly assigned to an ESP or wait-list control group. Participants completed self-report questionnaires at pretreatment, post-treatment, and a three-month follow-up. In the post-treatment and follow-up, ANOVAs revealed that the ESP group (N = 16) had significant improvements in each of the subscales of self-compassion (Cohen’s ds: .91–1.51) except for mindfulness, whereas the control group (N = 12) did not. Greater reductions in negative thoughts and emotions in the ESP group were also found. These gains remained at follow-up. These findings suggest that an ESP may be an effective and acceptable adjunct intervention for Japanese individuals with low self-compassion.
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Recently, the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) has been criticized for problems with psychometric validity. Further, the use of an overall self-compassion score that includes items representing the lack of self-compassion has been called into question. I argue that the SCS is consistent with my definition of self-compassion, which I see as a dynamic balance between the compassionate versus uncompassionate ways that individuals emotionally respond to pain and failure (with kindness or judgment), cognitively understand their predicament (as part of the human experience or as isolating), and pay attention to suffering (in a mindful or over-identified manner). A summary of new empirical evidence is provided using a bi-factor analysis, which indicates that at least 90 % of the reliable variance in SCS scores can be explained by an overall self-compassion factor in five different populations, justifying the use of a total scale score. Support for a six-factor structure to the SCS was also found; however, suggesting the scale can be used in a flexible manner depending on the interests of researchers. I also discuss the issue of whether a two-factor model of the SCS—which collapses self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness items into a “self-compassion” factor and self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification items into a “self-criticism” factor—makes theoretical sense. Finally, I present new data showing that self-compassion training increases scores on the positive SCS subscales and decreases scores on the negative subscales, supporting the idea that self-compassion represents more compassionate and fewer uncompassionate responses to suffering.
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Mind wandering, or the tendency for attention to drift to task-irrelevant thoughts, has been associated with worse intra- and inter-personal functioning. Utilizing daily experience sampling with 51 adults during 9-weeks of a compassion meditation program, we examined effects on mind wandering (to neutral, pleasant, and unpleasant topics) and caring behaviors for oneself and others. Results indicated that compassion meditation decreased mind wandering to neutral topics and increased caring behaviors towards oneself. When collapsing across topics, mind wandering did not serve as an intermediary between the frequency of compassion meditation practice and caring behaviors, though mind wandering to pleasant and unpleasant topics was linked to both variables. A path analysis revealed that greater frequency of compassion meditation practice was related to reductions in mind wandering to unpleasant topics and increases in mind wandering to pleasant topics, both of which were related to increases in caring behaviors for oneself and others.
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This case study examines the contribution of compassionate mind training (CMT) when used as a resource in the eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) treatment of a 58-year-old man, who presented after a recent trauma with psychological distress and somatic symptoms—an inability to sign his name. Self-report questionnaires (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS], Impact of Events Scale-R [IES-R], and Self-Compassion Scale [SCS]) were administered at pretherapy, midtherapy, posttherapy, and 9-month follow-up. EMDR with CMT facilitated recall of forgotten memories about his sister's traumatic death decades previously, with related emotions of shame and grief, creating insight into how these past events linked to his current signature-signing phobia. Eight sessions of therapy resulted in an elimination of the client's signature-signing phobia and a reduction in trauma-related symptoms, elevation in mood, and increase in self-compassion. Effects were maintained at 9-month follow-up. The "Discussion" section highlights the value of working collaboratively with clients to best meet their individual needs.
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This study explored the benefits of a group-based compassion-focused therapy approach in a heterogeneous group of clients presenting with severe and enduring mental health difficulties to a community mental health team. Seven groups with an average of five clients per group were run over 12-14 weeks. The format of the group followed the procedures of explaining the evolutionary model, formulating client problems within the compassion-focused therapy model, introducing clients to the core practices of compassionate training, and using compassion based interventions to address core difficulties. Questionnaires were completed pre- and post intervention: Self-criticism, shame, depression, anxiety, and stress. Significant reductions were found for depression, anxiety, stress, self-criticism, shame, submissive behavior, and social comparison post intervention. Of importance, at pre-intervention the majority of patients were in the severe category of depression scores. At the end of therapy the majority were in the borderline category. A combination of self-report data and client feedback suggests that compassion focused therapy is easily understood, well-tolerated, seen as helpful and produces significant changes in objective measures of mental health difficulties in naturalistic settings.
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Self-compassion has been shown to be related to several types of psychopathology, including traumatic stress, and has been shown to improve in response to various kinds of interventions. Current conceptualizations of self-compassion fit well with the psychological flexibility model, which underlies acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). However, there has been no research on ACT interventions specifically aimed at self-compassion. This randomized trial therefore compared a 6-hour ACT-based workshop targeting self-compassion to a wait-list control. From pretreatment to 2-month follow-up, ACT was significantly superior to the control condition in self-compassion, general psychological distress, and anxiety. Process analyses revealed psychological flexibility to be a significant mediator of changes in self-compassion, general psychological distress, depression, anxiety, and stress. Exploratory moderation analyses revealed the intervention to be of more benefit in terms of depression, anxiety, and stress to those with greater trauma history.
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Background: Compassion-focused therapy (CFT) is a relatively novel form of psychotherapy that was developed for people who have mental health problems primarily linked to high shame and self-criticism. The aim of this early systematic review was to draw together the current research evidence of the effectiveness of CFT as a psychotherapeutic intervention, and to provide recommendations that may inform the development of further trials. Method: A comprehensive search of electronic databases was undertaken to systematically identify literature relating to the effectiveness of CFT as a psychotherapeutic intervention. Reference lists of key journals were hand searched and contact with experts in the field was made to identify unpublished data. Results: Fourteen studies were included in the review, including three randomized controlled studies. The findings from the included studies were, in the most part, favourable to CFT, and in particular seemed to be effective for people who were high in self-criticism. Conclusions: CFT shows promise as an intervention for mood disorders, particularly those high in self-criticism. However, more large-scale, high-quality trials are needed before it can be considered evidence-based practice. The review highlights issues from the current evidence that may be used to inform such trials.
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Background People with acquired brain injuries (ABI) frequently experience psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression, which may be underpinned and maintained by high self-criticism and shame alongside an inability to self-soothe. Compassionate focused therapy (CFT) was developed to address shame and self-criticism and foster the ability to self-soothe. Objectives This is a naturalistic evaluation with the aim of assessing the feasibility, safety, and potential value of CFT for ABI patients with emotional difficulties receiving neuropsychological rehabilitation. Methods This study employed a mixed methods design combining self-report measures and qualitative interviews. Twelve patients received a combination of CFT group and individual intervention. Self-report measures of self-criticism, self-reassurance, and symptoms of anxiety and depression were collected pre and post programme and analysed using Wilcoxon signed rank test (N=12; five female, seven males). Follow-up data were analysed in the same manner (N=9). Interviews were conducted with six patients and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. ResultsCFT was associated with significant reductions in measures of self-criticism, anxiety, and depression and an increase in the ability to reassure the self. No adverse effects were reported. Three superordinate themes emerged from the interviews: psychological difficulties; developing trust and finding safeness; and a new approach. Conclusions This study suggests that CFT is well accepted in ABI survivors within the context of neuropsychological rehabilitation. Furthermore, the results indicate that further research into CFT for psychological problems after ABI is needed and that there may be key aspects, which are specific to CFT intervention, which could reduce psychological difficulties after ABI.
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Objective: Kindness-based meditation (KBM) is a rubric covering meditation techniques developed to elicit kindness in a conscious way. Some techniques, for example, loving-kindness meditation and compassion meditation, have been included in programs aimed at improving health and well-being. Our aim was to systematically review and meta-analyze the evidence available from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the effects of KBM on health and well-being against passive and active control groups in patients and the general population. Method: Searches were completed in March 2013. Two reviewers applied predetermined eligibility criteria (RCTs, peer-reviewed publications, theses or conference proceedings, adult participants, KBM interventions) and extracted the data. Meta-analyses used random-effects models. Results: Twenty-two studies were included. KBM was moderately effective in decreasing self-reported depression (standard mean difference [Hedges's g] = -0.61, 95% confidence interval [CI] [-1.08, -0.14]) and increasing mindfulness (Hedges's g = 0.63, 95% CI [0.22, 1.05]), compassion (Hedges's g = 0.61, 95% CI [0.24, 0.99]) and self-compassion (Hedges's g = 0.45, 95% CI [0.15, 0.75]) against passive controls. Positive emotions were increased (Hedges's g = 0.42, 95% CI [0.10, 0.75]) against progressive relaxation. Exposure to KBM may initially be challenging for some people. RESULTS were inconclusive for some outcomes, in particular against active controls. The methodological quality of the reports was low to moderate. RESULTS suffered from imprecision due to wide CIs deriving from small studies. Conclusions: KBM showed evidence of benefits for the health of individuals and communities through its effects on well-being and social interaction. Further research including well-conducted large RCTs is warranted.
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Body dissatisfaction is a major source of suffering among women of all ages. One potential factor that could mitigate body dissatisfaction is self-compassion, a construct that is garnering increasing research attention due to its strong association with psychological health. This study investigated whether a brief 3-week period of self-compassion meditation training would improve body satisfaction in a multigenera-tional group of women. Participants were randomized either to the meditation intervention group (N=98; M age=38.42) or to a waitlist control group (N=130; M age=36.42). Results sug-gested that compared to the control group, intervention par-ticipants experienced significantly greater reductions in body dissatisfaction, body shame, and contingent self-worth based on appearance, as well as greater gains in self-compassion and body appreciation. All improvements were maintained when assessed 3 months later. Self-compassion meditation may be a useful and cost-effective means of improving body image in adult women.
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Acquired brain injury (ABI) commonly results in a range of interacting difficulties including regulating emotion, managing social interactions and cognitive changes. Emotional adjustment to ABI can be difficult and requires adaptation of standard psychological therapies. This article outlines a case where cognitive– behavioural therapy (CBT) was of limited effectiveness but was significantly enhanced with compassion focused therapy (CFT). This article describes Jenny, a 23-year-old woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury 3 years prior to attending rehabilitation. Jenny presented with low self-esteem and mental health difficulties. Neuropsychological assessment revealed executive functioning difficulties. Jenny entered a holistic neuropsychological rehabilitation program aimed at improving complex interacting difficulties, receiving CBT as part of this. As CBT was of limited effectiveness, reformulation of Jenny's difficulties was presented to her based on CFT. The CFT intervention employed aimed to help Jenny develop self-validation and acceptance through producing feelings of kindness and warmth. Shifting the affective textures to the self is a key process for CFT. Self-report measures of mental health and self-esteem showed positive changes and the usefulness of CFT for Jenny. Adaptations in the context of Jenny's ABI are discussed. In conclusion, CFT may be useful in conceptualising emotional responses and developing intervention in rehabilitation after ABI, especially because CFT is based on a neurophysiological model of affect regulation that pays particular attention to the importance of affiliative emotions in the regulation of threat-focused emotion and self-construction.
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Compassion focused therapy (CFT) was developed to stimulate capacities for soothing and affiliation to self and others as a way to regulate the threat system. This feasibility study aimed to assess the safety, the acceptability, the potential benefits, and associated change processes of using group CFT with people recovering from psychosis. A prospective, randomized, open-label, blinded end point evaluation design was used. Forty adult patients with a schizophrenia-spectrum disorder were randomized to CFT plus treatment as usual (TAU; n = 22) or to TAU alone (n = 18). Group CFT comprised 16 sessions (2 hr each, 1 x week). Participants were assessed prior to randomization and at the end of treatment. Assessments included semi-structured interviews to elicit narratives of recovery from psychosis and self-report measures. At the end of treatment, participants were rated on the Clinical Global Impression Scale. Narratives were coded using the Narrative Recovery Style Scale to provide measures of change in compassion and avoidance. Change processes were correlated with changes in depression, personal beliefs about illness, fear of recurrence, and positive and negative affect. Group CFT was associated with no adverse events, low attrition (18%), and high acceptability. Relative to TAU, CFT was associated with greater observed clinical improvement (p < 0.001) and significant increases in compassion (p = 0.015) of large magnitude. Relative to TAU, increases in compassion in the CFT group were significantly associated with reductions in depression (p = 0.001) and in perceived social marginalization (p = 0.002). Findings support the feasibility of group CFT in psychosis and suggest that changes in compassion can be achieved, which appear to reduce depression in particular. This is the first randomized controlled evaluation of CFT. Compassion focused therapy appears as a safe, acceptable, promising, and evolving intervention for promoting emotional recovery from psychosis.
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To identify molecular mechanisms underlying the prospective health advantages associated with psychological well-being, we analyzed leukocyte basal gene expression profiles in 80 healthy adults who were assessed for hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, as well as potentially confounded negative psychological and behavioral factors. Hedonic and eudaimonic well-being showed similar affective correlates but highly divergent transcriptome profiles. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from people with high levels of hedonic well-being showed up-regulated expression of a stress-related conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA) involving increased expression of proinflammatory genes and decreased expression of genes involved in antibody synthesis and type I IFN response. In contrast, high levels of eudaimonic well-being were associated with CTRA down-regulation. Promoter-based bioinformatics implicated distinct patterns of transcription factor activity in structuring the observed differences in gene expression associated with eudaimonic well-being (reduced NF-κB and AP-1 signaling and increased IRF and STAT signaling). Transcript origin analysis identified monocytes, plasmacytoid dendritic cells, and B lymphocytes as primary cellular mediators of these dynamics. The finding that hedonic and eudaimonic well-being engage distinct gene regulatory programs despite their similar effects on total well-being and depressive symptoms implies that the human genome may be more sensitive to qualitative variations in well-being than are our conscious affective experiences.
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In this article, the authors explore compassion in work organizations. They discuss the prevalence and costs of pain in organizational life, and identify compassion as an important process that can occur in response to suffering. At the individual level, compassion takes place through three subprocesses: noticing another’s pain, experiencing an emotional reaction to the pain, and acting in response to the pain. The authors build on this framework to argue that organizational compassion exists when members of a system collectively notice, feel, and respond to pain experienced by members of that system. These processes become collective as features of an organization’s context legitimate them within the organization, propagate them among organizational members, and coordinate them across individuals.
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Compassion is a positive orientation towards suffering that may be enhanced through compassion training and is thought to influence psychological functioning. However, the effects of compassion training on mindfulness, affect, and emotion regulation are not known. We conducted a randomized controlled trial in which 100 adults from the community were randomly assigned to either a 9-week compassion cultivation training (CCT) or a waitlist (WL) control condition. Participants completed self-report inventories that measured mindfulness, positive and negative affect, and emotion regulation. Compared to WL, CCT resulted in increased mindfulness and happiness, as well as decreased worry and emotional suppression. Within CCT, the amount of formal meditation practiced was related to reductions in worry and emotional suppression. These findings suggest that compassion cultivation training effects cognitive and emotion factors that support psychological flexible and adaptive functioning.
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Compassion is a key motivator of altruistic behavior, but little is known about individuals' capacity to cultivate compassion through training. We examined whether compassion may be systematically trained by testing whether (a) short-term compassion training increases altruistic behavior and (b) individual differences in altruism are associated with training-induced changes in neural responses to suffering. In healthy adults, we found that compassion training increased altruistic redistribution of funds to a victim encountered outside of the training context. Furthermore, increased altruistic behavior after compassion training was associated with altered activation in brain regions implicated in social cognition and emotion regulation, including the inferior parietal cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and in DLPFC connectivity with the nucleus accumbens. These results suggest that compassion can be cultivated with training and that greater altruistic behavior may emerge from increased engagement of neural systems implicated in understanding the suffering of other people, executive and emotional control, and reward processing.
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Although empathy is crucial for successful social interactions, excessive sharing of others’ negative emotions may be maladaptive and constitute a source of burnout. To investigate functional neural plasticity underlying the augmentation of empathy and to test the counteracting potential of compassion, one group of participants was first trained in empathic resonance and subsequently in compassion. In response to videos depicting human suffering, empathy training, but not memory training (control group), increased negative affect and brain activations in anterior insula and anterior midcingulate cortex—brain regions previously associated with empathy for pain. In contrast, subsequent compassion training could reverse the increase in negative effect and, in contrast, augment self-reports of positive affect. In addition, compassion training increased activations in a non-overlapping brain network spanning ventral striatum, pregenual anterior cingulate cortex and medial orbitofrontal cortex. We conclude that training compassion may reflect a new coping strategy to overcome empathic distress and strengthen resilience.
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Psychosocial interventions often aim to alleviate negative emotional states. However, there is growing interest in cultivating positive emotional states and qualities. One particular target is compassion, but it is not yet clear whether compassion can be trained. A community sample of 100 adults were randomly assigned to a 9-week compassion cultivation training (CCT) program (n = 60) or a waitlist control condition (n = 40). Before and after this 9-week period, participants completed self-report inventories that measured compassion for others, receiving compassion from others, and self-compassion. Compared to the waitlist control condition, CCT resulted in significant improvements in all three domains of compassion—compassion for others, receiving compassion from others, and self-compassion. The amount of formal meditation practiced during CCT was associated with increased compassion for others. Specific domains of compassion can be intentionally cultivated in a training program. These findings may have important implications for mental health and well-being.
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The effectiveness of two online exercises intended to help individuals experience (1) self-compassion (n = 63) and (2) optimism (n = 55) were compared to a control intervention where participants wrote about an early memory (n = 70). A battery of tests was completed at 1 week following the exercise period, and at 1-, 3-, and 6-month follow-ups. Both active interventions resulted in significant increases in happiness observable at 6 months and significant decreases in depression sustained up to 3 months. The interventions were examined in relationship to dependency and self-criticism, both related to vulnerability to depression. Individuals high in self-criticism became happier at 1 week and at 1 month in the optimism condition in the repeated measures analysis. A sensitivity test using multi-level modeling failed to replicate this effect. More mature levels of dependence (connectedness) were related to improvements in mood up to 6 months in the self-compassion condition. This study suggests that different personality orientations may show greater gains from particular types of positive psychology interventions.
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The amygdala has been repeatedly implicated in emotional processing of both positive and negative-valence stimuli. Previous studies suggest that the amygdala response to emotional stimuli is lower when the subject is in a meditative state of mindful-attention, both in beginner meditators after an 8-week meditation intervention and in expert meditators. However, the longitudinal effects of meditation training on amygdala responses have not been reported when participants are in an ordinary, non-meditative state. In this study, we investigated how 8 weeks of training in meditation affects amygdala responses to emotional stimuli in subjects when in a non-meditative state. Healthy adults with no prior meditation experience took part in 8 weeks of either Mindful Attention Training (MAT), Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT; a program based on Tibetan Buddhist compassion meditation practices), or an active control intervention. Before and after the intervention, participants underwent an fMRI experiment during which they were presented images with positive, negative, and neutral emotional valences from the IAPS database while remaining in an ordinary, non-meditative state. Using a region-of-interest analysis, we found a longitudinal decrease in right amygdala activation in the Mindful Attention group in response to positive images, and in response to images of all valences overall. In the CBCT group, we found a trend increase in right amygdala response to negative images, which was significantly correlated with a decrease in depression score. No effects or trends were observed in the control group. This finding suggests that the effects of meditation training on emotional processing might transfer to non-meditative states. This is consistent with the hypothesis that meditation training may induce learning that is not stimulus- or task-specific, but process-specific, and thereby may result in enduring changes in mental function.
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The application of mindfulness and compassion to evidence-based parenting programs (EBPPs) offers a novel approach in enhancing nurturing family environments. The proposed framework offers an opportunity to re-focus behavioral parenting interventions from primarily reducing problematic behaviors to instead increasing pro-social caring behavior. This article aimed to extend the knowledge base on EBPPs by (a) reviewing the current role of EBPPs; (b) discussing the potential of mindfulness and compassion to enhance EBPPs; (c) reviewing current EBPPs that integrate mindfulness and compassion; and (d) providing recommendations for EBPPs in order to help enhance their impact on building nurturing family environments. © 2016 American Psychological Association. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., on behalf of the American Psychological Association
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Self-compassion is increasingly explored as a protective factor in relation to psychopathology. The Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) and its Short Form variant (SCS-SF) are the most widely used instruments for measuring this psychological construct, and previous studies have indeed shown that the total score of this scale is negatively associated with psychopathology. In this article, we point out that half of the items of the SCS and SCS-SF are positive indicators of self-compassion and directly refer to the three key components of self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness, while the other half of the items are negative indicators of the construct and reflect the precise opposite of the key components, namely self-judgment, isolation and over-identification. A meta-analysis was conducted including 18 studies that reported on the positive and negative indicators of self-compassion as indexed by the SCS/SCS-SF and their relations to various types of psychopathology. Results showed that positive indicators of self-compassion were negatively associated with psychopathology, which confirms their hypothesized protective influence. However, the negative indicators were positively linked to psychopathology, suggesting that these scales tap increased vulnerability to mental health problems. Moreover, tests comparing the strength of the relations between various SCS/SCS-SF counterparts (i.e., self-kindness versus self-judgment, common humanity versus isolation and mindfulness versus over-identification) and psychopathology showed that the negative indicators were significantly stronger linked to mental health problems than the positive indicators. This provides support for the idea that the use of a total self-compassion score of the SCS or SCS-SF, which typically includes the reversely scored negative subscales, will probably result in an inflated relationship with symptoms of psychopathology. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.