January 2016 Tool of the Month: The Self Compassion Scale, Short Form (SCS-SF)

In our previous Tool of the Month posts, we have written about two assessment measures we often give clients who are struggling with shame and self criticism, the Forms of Self-Criticising/Attacking and Self-Reassuring Scale (FSCRS) and the Fears of Compassion Scale. This month we highlight another self report measure, the Self Compassion Scale, Short Form (SCS-SF, Raes, Pommier, Neff, & Van Gutcht, 2011) that is part of our standard package of measures we give often clients at the outset of therapy. This 12-item measure provides a useful overview of how a client might typically respond to themselves during times of struggle. With questions such as “When I feel inadequate in some way, I try to remind myself that feelings of inadequacy are shared by most people.” and “When I’m going through a very hard time, I give myself the caring and tenderness I need.” the SCS-SF assesses various aspects of self compassion including one’s sense of a common humanity, mindfulness, and self-kindness.

Although the reliability of the subscales on this short form aren’t nearly as strong as they are for the full version, the correlation in overall scores between the short and long versions are extremely high. Although the Self-Compassion Scale has been criticized for problems with psychometric validity, a recent study found that at least 90% of the variability in scores could be explained by an overall self-compassion factor across five different populations. Another benefit of the SCS-SF is that Neff and her team have generously made this scale available free of charge and it can be downloaded here from her website.

As we have discussed in our more extended section on case conceptualization, assessment measures can be used not only to provide information about the client, but the debriefing process can also be used as a therapeutic intervention. For example, depending on a client’s responses on the SCS-SF, the clinician may use the debriefing process to introduce concepts that until this point, the client may not have thought of, such as the idea of a common humanity or being able to take perspective of how they behave in their own relationship with themselves.

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