An examination of self-compassion in relation to process group psychotherapy

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Title: An examination of self-compassion in relation to process group psychotherapy
Author: Jannazzo, Eric Stephen
Abstract: Recent reviewers of the group psychotherapy literature have called for the introduction of new constructs that may contribute to a deeper understanding of what it is about process groups that make them effective in eliciting change . To this end , this study investigates the potential of a newly defined and operationalized construct known as self -compassion . Drawing on the writings of various scholars of Buddhism , Neff has theorized that self -compassion consists of three main , mutually influential components : self -kindness (the act of being gentle with oneself in instance of pain or failure ) ; mindfulness (holding painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness , without over -identifying with them ) ; and common humanity (the perception of one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience ) . This paper argues that there are strong parallels between each of these three components and existing theory on the mechanisms of change in group psychotherapy . The study was motivated by the belief that preliminary quantitative support for the role of self -compassion in change through groups may highlight the importance of the construct and help orient both group practitioners and group researchers towards a new theoretical lens through which the power of groups may be better understood . 92 subjects were enrolled in the study : 57 in a non -treatment Control condition , and 35 in a Treatment condition . The Control group was comprised of undergraduates from the Educational Psychology Department subject pool at the University of Texas at Austin ; the Treatment group was formed by UT undergraduate and graduate students who were enrolled in a process psychotherapy group at the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center . A pre -test /post -test design was employed , with subjects taking identical surveys at baseline (beginning of Fall 2007 semester ) and follow -up (end of the same semester ) . A variety of inferential statistical techniques were utilized , and results indicated that there was a significant relationship between participation in process group psychotherapy and positive mental health outcomes as measured by self -report levels of depression , perceived stress , and happiness ; that participation in a therapy group was associated with increased levels of self -compassion ; and that as a predictor of mental health outcome in relation to therapy groups , self -compassion was on the whole equivalent to one construct (hope ) often cited in the group literature as a powerful therapeutic mechanism , and a more powerful predictor than another (altruism ) . The overall results offer exciting implications for future research and clinical practice , as they suggest that self -compassion may well serve as an important component of a robust theoretical , organizing lens through which the power of group psychotherapy may be more clearly understood .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /6679
Date: 2009-11-05

Citation

An examination of self-compassion in relation to process group psychotherapy. Doctoral dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /6679 .

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