Compassion in Psychotherapy Research Update: December 2014

Every month, we scour the scientific literature for interesting studies that have practical implications for therapists working with shame, self-criticism, or compassion. Below are a few of our favorites for this month: 

Submissive compassion is different from genuine compassion

A new study just came out where the authors developed a new scale to measure what they called “submissive compassion.” Submissive compassion was defined as “caring in order to be liked.” The researchers found that submissive compassion was related to submissive behavior, shame-based caring, depression, anxiety, and stress. In contrast, genuine compassionate was not.

Take away: Suggests that there may be different kinds of compassion and that genuine compassion is different from fear-based compassion.

Read More:
Francisca, C., Gilbert, P., McEwan, K., and Baião, R. (2014). Compassion Motivations: Distinguishing Submissive Compassion From Genuine Compassion and its Association With Shame, Submissive Behavior, Depression, Anxiety and StressJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 33, pp. 399-412. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2014.33.5.399


An initial feasibility test of compassion-focused therapy with eating disorders

This study showed the feasibility of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) as a potential treatment for eating disorders. While the study wasn’t rigorous enough to see if CFT worked as well as or better than another treatment or treatment as usual, this study did provide some initial support that such a study would be warranted. In this study, interestingly, people with bulimia nervosa improved significantly more than people with anorexia nervosa on most of the subscales. Might it be the case that compassion-focused interventions tend to work better for bulimia for some reason?

Take away: Perhaps there are higher levels of shame among people with bulimia? Anyone out there have any input or opinion on that? Let us know.

Read the article: 
Gale, C., Gilbert, P., Read, N., & Goss, K. (2014). An evaluation of the impact of introducing compassion focused therapy to a standard treatment programme for people with eating disordersClinical psychology & psychotherapy, 21(1), 1-12.


A comparison of Compassion Cultivation Training to waitlist control

This study compared the effectiveness of 9-week compassion training called Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) to a waitlist control condition. This is only the second randomized controlled trial of CCT to date. In CCT, the emphasis is on developing compassion for both self and others. 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.

Take away: Some evidence supporting Compassion Cultivation Training.

Read more: 
Jazaieri, H., McGonigal, K., Jinpa, T., Doty, J. R., Gross, J. J., & Goldin, P. R. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of compassion cultivation training: Effects on mindfulness, affect, and emotion regulationMotivation and Emotion, 38(1), 23-35.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.