Compassion focused therapy: Exploring the effectiveness with a transdiagnostic group and potential processes of change.

Research paper by Jennifer J Cuppage, Katie K Baird, Jennifer J Gibson, Richard R Booth, David D Hevey

Indexed on: 19 Oct '17Published on: 19 Oct '17Published in: The British journal of clinical psychology / the British Psychological Society


This study aimed to examine the effectiveness of a compassion focused therapy (CFT) group with a transdiagnostic population, as compared to treatment as usual (TAU). A secondary aim was to explore the potential processes of change within the treatment.A non-randomized control trial was used.Fifty-eight participants who engaged in group CFT were compared to 29 participants receiving TAU. Group CFT consisted of 14 sessions twice weekly for 5 weeks and once weekly for 4 weeks. Participants completed measures of psychopathology, shame, self-criticism, fears of self-compassion, and social safeness, at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 2-month follow-up. Potential processes of change were examined using correlations and regression analysis.Significantly greater improvements were found for levels of psychopathology, fears of self-compassion and social safeness for CFT, compared to TAU. Additionally, analyses showed improvements in shame and self-criticism within the CFT group but not the TAU group. All improvements were maintained at 2-month follow-up. Improvements in psychopathology were predicted by changes in self-criticism and fears of self-compassion.Compassion focused therapy appears to be an effective group intervention for a range of mental health difficulties. The positive impact of the CFT model with a transdiagnostic group emphasizes the value of addressing underlying psychological process, rather than symptoms alone.Compassion focused therapy is a multimodal therapy designed to target high levels of shame and self-criticism. Compassion focused therapy has been shown previously to have positive results within a range of diagnostic-specific populations. While there is an emerging research base, limited studies assessing effectiveness with transdiagnostic populations have been published. CFT was shown to have a significant effect in reducing levels of psychopathology, compared to TAU. A number of potential processes of change were identified: Changes in psychopathology were significantly correlated with changes in self-criticism and fears of self-compassion.