Effectiveness of compassion-focused therapy for self-criticism in patients with personality disorders: a multiple baseline case series study

Silvia M. Pol*, Audrey de Jong, Hester Trompetter, Ernst T. Bohlmeijer, Farid Chakhssi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Objective: Targeting self-criticism, the tendency to negatively evaluate and judge aspects of oneself, may improve treatment efficacy for personality disorders (PDs). This study aimed to test whether adding 12-week group compassion-focused therapy (CFT) that explicitly targets self-criticism to treatment as usual (TAU) would reduce self-criticism in patients with PDs. Method: Twelve patients with PDs participated in a multiple baseline study, randomly allocated to different baseline lengths. The primary outcome was twice-weekly assessed self-critical beliefs during baseline, treatment, and follow-up phases. Secondary outcomes were self-criticism, self-compassion, and PD severity at the end of CFT and follow-up (trial registered: NL8131). Nine participants completed the intervention. No significant changes were observed during CFT, but at follow-up significant decrease in self-critical beliefs (Cohen's d = −0.43; 95% CI = −0.73 to −0.12) was reported compared to baseline. On secondary outcomes, most participants showed reliable improvement on self-reported criticism (66.7%) and self-compassion (55.6%), and a minority of patients showed reliable improvement in PD severity (33.3%). Conclusions: This study seems to provide preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of 12-week CFT for self-critical beliefs in patients with PDs compared to TAU. CFT for self-criticism in PDs may complement treatment offerings and warrant further research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and mental health
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 9 Nov 2023

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