Pathways to improving mental health in compassion-focused therapy: Self reassurance, self criticism and affect as mediators of change

M. Sommers-Spijkerman, H. Trompetter, K. Scheurs, E. Bohlmeijer

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Abstract

Objective
The working mechanisms of compassion-focused therapy (CFT) remain understudied. Drawing on the theoretical model underlying CFT, we examined four putative working mechanisms – self-reassurance, self-criticism, positive/negative affect – in relation to changes in well-being and psychological distress.

Methods
Data of a waitlist randomised controlled trial (N = 242) investigating the effectiveness of a self-help CFT-intervention in a non-clinical sample were analysed. Using single and multiple mediation models, we assessed if changes in self-reassurance, self-criticism and positive/negative affect during the intervention (3-month interval) mediated changes in well-being and depressive/anxiety symptoms from baseline to follow-up (6-month interval) compared to the waitlist condition.

Results
For each outcome, single analyses revealed that the effects of CFT were significantly mediated by self-reassurance and self-criticism. The mediating role of affect differed across outcomes. In combined models, self-reassurance emerged as a significant mediator for well-being and anxiety symptoms. Additionally, positive and negative affect were found significant mediators of the effects on depressive and anxiety symptoms, respectively.

Conclusion
This study provides preliminary empirical evidence that CFT operates through cultivating self-reassurance, reducing self-criticism and regulating positive and negative affect in a non-clinical sample. To advance the development of CFT, further exploration of therapeutic change processes and their interplay is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2442
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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Mental Health
Depression
Theoretical Models

Cite this

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title = "Pathways to improving mental health in compassion-focused therapy: Self reassurance, self criticism and affect as mediators of change",
abstract = "ObjectiveThe working mechanisms of compassion-focused therapy (CFT) remain understudied. Drawing on the theoretical model underlying CFT, we examined four putative working mechanisms – self-reassurance, self-criticism, positive/negative affect – in relation to changes in well-being and psychological distress.MethodsData of a waitlist randomised controlled trial (N = 242) investigating the effectiveness of a self-help CFT-intervention in a non-clinical sample were analysed. Using single and multiple mediation models, we assessed if changes in self-reassurance, self-criticism and positive/negative affect during the intervention (3-month interval) mediated changes in well-being and depressive/anxiety symptoms from baseline to follow-up (6-month interval) compared to the waitlist condition.ResultsFor each outcome, single analyses revealed that the effects of CFT were significantly mediated by self-reassurance and self-criticism. The mediating role of affect differed across outcomes. In combined models, self-reassurance emerged as a significant mediator for well-being and anxiety symptoms. Additionally, positive and negative affect were found significant mediators of the effects on depressive and anxiety symptoms, respectively.ConclusionThis study provides preliminary empirical evidence that CFT operates through cultivating self-reassurance, reducing self-criticism and regulating positive and negative affect in a non-clinical sample. To advance the development of CFT, further exploration of therapeutic change processes and their interplay is needed.",
author = "M. Sommers-Spijkerman and H. Trompetter and K. Scheurs and E. Bohlmeijer",
year = "2018",
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language = "English",
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journal = "Frontiers in Psychology",
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Pathways to improving mental health in compassion-focused therapy : Self reassurance, self criticism and affect as mediators of change. / Sommers-Spijkerman, M.; Trompetter, H.; Scheurs, K.; Bohlmeijer, E.

In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 9, 2442, 2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Pathways to improving mental health in compassion-focused therapy

T2 - Self reassurance, self criticism and affect as mediators of change

AU - Sommers-Spijkerman, M.

AU - Trompetter, H.

AU - Scheurs, K.

AU - Bohlmeijer, E.

PY - 2018

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N2 - ObjectiveThe working mechanisms of compassion-focused therapy (CFT) remain understudied. Drawing on the theoretical model underlying CFT, we examined four putative working mechanisms – self-reassurance, self-criticism, positive/negative affect – in relation to changes in well-being and psychological distress.MethodsData of a waitlist randomised controlled trial (N = 242) investigating the effectiveness of a self-help CFT-intervention in a non-clinical sample were analysed. Using single and multiple mediation models, we assessed if changes in self-reassurance, self-criticism and positive/negative affect during the intervention (3-month interval) mediated changes in well-being and depressive/anxiety symptoms from baseline to follow-up (6-month interval) compared to the waitlist condition.ResultsFor each outcome, single analyses revealed that the effects of CFT were significantly mediated by self-reassurance and self-criticism. The mediating role of affect differed across outcomes. In combined models, self-reassurance emerged as a significant mediator for well-being and anxiety symptoms. Additionally, positive and negative affect were found significant mediators of the effects on depressive and anxiety symptoms, respectively.ConclusionThis study provides preliminary empirical evidence that CFT operates through cultivating self-reassurance, reducing self-criticism and regulating positive and negative affect in a non-clinical sample. To advance the development of CFT, further exploration of therapeutic change processes and their interplay is needed.

AB - ObjectiveThe working mechanisms of compassion-focused therapy (CFT) remain understudied. Drawing on the theoretical model underlying CFT, we examined four putative working mechanisms – self-reassurance, self-criticism, positive/negative affect – in relation to changes in well-being and psychological distress.MethodsData of a waitlist randomised controlled trial (N = 242) investigating the effectiveness of a self-help CFT-intervention in a non-clinical sample were analysed. Using single and multiple mediation models, we assessed if changes in self-reassurance, self-criticism and positive/negative affect during the intervention (3-month interval) mediated changes in well-being and depressive/anxiety symptoms from baseline to follow-up (6-month interval) compared to the waitlist condition.ResultsFor each outcome, single analyses revealed that the effects of CFT were significantly mediated by self-reassurance and self-criticism. The mediating role of affect differed across outcomes. In combined models, self-reassurance emerged as a significant mediator for well-being and anxiety symptoms. Additionally, positive and negative affect were found significant mediators of the effects on depressive and anxiety symptoms, respectively.ConclusionThis study provides preliminary empirical evidence that CFT operates through cultivating self-reassurance, reducing self-criticism and regulating positive and negative affect in a non-clinical sample. To advance the development of CFT, further exploration of therapeutic change processes and their interplay is needed.

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