Pathways to improving mental health in Compassion-Focused Therapy: Self-reassurance, self-criticism and affect as mediators of change

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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 - 5 Dec 2018

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Mental Health
Anxiety
Therapeutics
Depression
Self-Assessment
Theoretical Models
Randomized Controlled Trials
Psychology

Cite this

@article{46d54c08a3d842098ced810fb3109dd2,
title = "Pathways to improving mental health in Compassion-Focused Therapy: Self-reassurance, self-criticism and affect as mediators of change",
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.",
author = "Sommers-Spijkerman, {Maria Petronella Johanna} and Hester Trompetter and Schreurs, {Karlein Maria Gertrudis} and Bohlmeijer, {Ernst Thomas}",
year = "2018",
month = "12",
day = "5",
doi = "10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02442",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
journal = "Frontiers in psychology",
issn = "1664-1078",
publisher = "Frontiers Media S.A.",

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

AU - Sommers-Spijkerman, Maria Petronella Johanna

AU - Trompetter, Hester

AU - Schreurs, Karlein Maria Gertrudis

AU - Bohlmeijer, Ernst Thomas

PY - 2018/12/5

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N2 - 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.

AB - 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.

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