‘Being Kinder to Myself’
Elaine Beaumont, Lecturer University of Salford / Psychotherapist for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service
Overview and Aim of the study
Individuals that have been involved in a traumatic experience often feel significant levels of shame and/or guilt. Whilst CBT may be effective in reducing other symptoms of PTSD, these
individuals may also benefit from using self-soothing techniques, such as developing empathy, loving kindness and compassion for themselves, in a non judgemental way (Gilbert, 2009; Neff,
2003). Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) suggests that if individuals can develop their minds to be self-soothing, nurturing, kind and loving they can alleviate self-criticism, guilt and shame
(Lee, 2009).
This study aims to explore differences in treatment outcome measures following a course of either Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) following a traumatic incident or CBT coupled with using
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). This research aims to examine the role self-compassion can play in helping individuals who have been involved in a traumatic incident.
Introduction
Table 1:Some of the treatment techniques used in both conditions
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Compassion Focused Therapy
Through combining CBT and CFT, individuals learn
to challenge their own behaviour, thoughts and
negative ‘self-talk’, by being more caring and
sympathetic, rather than being critical and
judgmental. This might be described in everyday,
non-technical language, as encouraging the client
to consider ‘being kinder to myself’, as an aid to
therapeutic recovery, following a traumatic incident.
Table 1 shows some of the treatment techniques
used in both conditions.
Writing about the trauma, learning to
take charge of the memory.
Method
Anxiety management training, use of
relaxation and distraction techniques.
A non-random convenience sample (n=32) referred
for therapy following a traumatic incident were
randomly assigned to receive up to twelve sessions
of cognitive behavioural therapy or compassion
focused therapy coupled with CBT.
Data was gathered pre-therapy and post-therapy
using three self-report questionnaires (Hospital
Anxiety and Depression Scale, Impact of Events
Scale and the Self Compassion Scale)
Results and analysis
Figure 1 reveals that participants in the combined
CFT and CBT condition developed significant
higher self-compassion scores post-therapy than
the CBT only group. Participants in both conditions
experienced a highly statistically significant
reduction in symptoms of anxiety, depression,
avoidant behaviour, intrusive thoughts and hyperarousal symptoms post-therapy. Figure 2 reveals
the mean level of improvement for both groups.
Reliving work - exploring the worst
memory and using coping strategies.
Use of exposure therapy. For
example, revisiting the scene of the
trauma and/or imaginal exposure.
Learning to observe and monitor
physical, emotional, behavioural and
cognitive reactions using thought
records/charts/cost benefit analysis.
Cognitive restructuring to examine
core beliefs, dysfunctional
assumptions and negative automatic
thoughts.
Figure 2: Level of improvement pre and posttherapy for both conditions (HADS Scale)
Compassionate letter writing – focusing
on being kind, supportive and nurturing to
oneself.
Developing sensitivity, sympathy,
acceptance and insight into one’s own
difficulties through self-reflection.
Relaxation techniques. Mindfulness
training.
Learning to observe and monitor reactions
in a kind and compassionate way.
Learning to challenge the ‘bully within’.
Examining positives, for example,
focusing on specific individual qualities.
Use of self-compassion journal.
Use of imagery (building a compassionate
image).
12
M
e
a
n
s
c
o
r
e
s
10
10.56
9.44
8
6
7.32
6.25
CBT
CBT and CMT
4
2
0
Depression
Anxiety
Discussion and conclusions
The results suggest that CFT may be a useful addition to CBT for
clients suffering with trauma-related symptoms. In conclusion, high
levels of self-compassion are linked to a decrease in anxiety,
depression and trauma-related symptoms. CFT can assist clients to
learn to challenge their own ‘internal bully’ in a non-judgemental way,
by their adopting the stance of ‘being kinder to myself’.
References
Gilbert, P. (2009). The Compassionate Mind. London: Constable.
Lee, D.A. (2009). Compassion focused therapy to overcome shame
and relentless self attack: In Sookman, D., & Leahy, R. (eds).
Treatment Resistant Anxiety Disorders. New York: Routledge.
Neff, K. (2003). Development and validation of a scale to measure
self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2, 223-250
Contact details
Elaine Beaumont. School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work,
University of Salford, Frederick Rd, Salford M6 6PU
Email: [email protected]
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