Effects of a brief compassion exercise on affect and emotion regulation in patients with personality disorders

Marion Sommers-Spijkerman, Mirjam Radstaak*, Farid Chakhssi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Background and objectives: Cultivating compassion seems a promising strategy for ameliorating emotion dysregulation in patients with personality disorders (PDs). Thus far, empirical evidence is lacking. This study aimed to examine whether a brief compassion exercise compared to a neutral exercise would positively impact on (implicit) positive affect (PA) and (implicit) negative affect (NA) and foster the use of more adaptive emotion regulation strategies in an adult clinical sample with PDs. Methods: A total of 24 patients admitted to a Dutch day-hospital treatment center for PDs participated in a two-group cross-over study. Participants were randomly allocated over two groups that were both given the compassion and neutral exercise, yet in a different order. Assessments took place prior to and following each exercise. Participants completed questionnaires assessing (implicit) PA and NA and emotion regulation strategies. Results: Multilevel analyses did not yield significant differences between the neutral and compassion exercise in terms of adaptive and maladaptive emotion regulation and implicit PA. The compassion exercise was able to significantly decrease implicit NA among participants, relative to the neutral exercise. A significant interaction effect was observed between exercise and sequence of exercises on PA and NA. Limitations: Limitations include the brief duration of the exercises, the control exercise and the low reliability for the emotion regulation measure. Conclusions: The compassion exercise decreased implicit NA but seemed not able to impact on PA, NA and emotion regulation in patients with PDs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101803
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Volume78
Early online date23 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Affect
  • Compassion
  • Emotion regulation
  • Personality disorder
  • UT-Hybrid-D

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