Can Being Kind to Ourselves Make a Difference? The Relationship Between Self-compassion and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
There is a growing body of research in support of the relationship between self-compassion and psychological health (Neff, Kirkpatrick & Rude, 2007). However, studies are limited on the malleability of self-compassion specifically within clinical populations, and its influence on psychiatric symptom reduction (Raes, 2011). This study therefore aimed to explore self-compassion, through examination of the underlying components (self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness), and their impact on maladaptive functioning, specifically for participants diagnosed with PTSD. The study used an exploratory mixed methods design, with eight participants recruited by their attendance at two PTSD CBT/IPT (with self-compassion) group treatment interventions. Participants were adults, with a diagnosis of PTSD and a history of recurrent or current depression. Participants attended a group interview and two therapists who facilitated each treatment group were also interviewed. Participants completed quantitative measures pre and post intervention; Self-Compassion Scale (Neff, 2003a) and Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (Blake et al., 1995), and session data was recorded using the PTSD checklist (PCL-C; Weathers, Litz, Huska & Keane, 1994) and the Session Feedback Form (AccEPT Primary Care Psychological Therapies Service). The findings demonstrate the importance that individuals place on self-compassion in their PTSD recovery, particularly in relation to self-kindness and the generation of positive self-belief and a compassionate inner-voice. The study also indicates that a clinically significant change in self-compassion is possible for individuals with PTSD, supporting the malleability of self-compassion within clinical populations.