Enhancing Compassion: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Compassion Cultivation Training Program
- 4.1k Downloads
Psychosocial interventions often aim to alleviate negative emotional states. However, there is growing interest in cultivating positive emotional states and qualities. One particular target is compassion, but it is not yet clear whether compassion can be trained. A community sample of 100 adults were randomly assigned to a 9-week compassion cultivation training (CCT) program (n = 60) or a waitlist control condition (n = 40). Before and after this 9-week period, participants completed self-report inventories that measured compassion for others, receiving compassion from others, and self-compassion. Compared to the waitlist control condition, CCT resulted in significant improvements in all three domains of compassion—compassion for others, receiving compassion from others, and self-compassion. The amount of formal meditation practiced during CCT was associated with increased compassion for others. Specific domains of compassion can be intentionally cultivated in a training program. These findings may have important implications for mental health and well-being.
KeywordsCompassion Self-compassion Meditation Training
This research was supported by a Fetzer grant awarded to Philippe Goldin and James Gross, as well funding from Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). The authors of this manuscript do not have any direct or indirect conflicts of interest, financial or personal relationships or affiliations to disclose.
- Balslev, A., & Evers, D. (2011). Compassion in the world’s religions: Envisioning human solidarity. Berlin: Lit Verlag.Google Scholar
- Batson, C. D. (1991). The altruism question: Toward a social-psychological answer. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Compassion. (2011). In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved October 19, 2011, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compassion.
- Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. A. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1045–1062. doi: 10.1037/a0013262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gerhardt, S. (2010). The selfish society: How we all forgot to love one another and made money instead. London: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
- Germer, C. K. (2009). The mindful path to self-compassion: Freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Gilbert, P. (2007). Psychotherapy and counselling for depression (3rd ed.). London: Stage.Google Scholar
- Gilbert, P. (2009). The compassionate mind: A new approach to life’s challenges. London: Constable & Robinson.Google Scholar
- Gilbert, P. (2010). Compassion focused therapy: Distinctive features. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Gilbert, P., & Irons, C. (2005). Focused therapies and compassionate mind training for shame and self-attacking. In P. Gilbert (Ed.), Compassion: Conceptualisations, research and use in psychotherapy (pp. 263–325). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Gilbert, P., McEwan, K., Matos, M., & Rivis, A. (2010). Fears of compassion: Development of three self-report measures. Psychology and Psycotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. doi: 10.1348/147608310X526511.
- Jinpa, T. (2010). Compassion cultivation training (CCT): Instructor’s manual. Unpublished, Stanford, CA.Google Scholar
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain and illness. New York: Delacorte.Google Scholar
- Lama, D. (1995). The power of compassion: A collection of lectures. New Delhi: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
- Lama, D. (2001). Open heart: Practicing compassion in everyday life. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
- Lutz, A., Brefczynski-Lewis, J., Johnstone, T., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation: Effects of meditative expertise. Public Library of Science, 3, 1–5.Google Scholar
- Moses, J. (2002). Oneness: Great principles shared by all religions. Toronto: Ballantine.Google Scholar
- Pace, T. W., Negi, L. T., Adame, D. D., Cole, S. P., Sivilli, T. I., Brown, T. D., et al. (2009). Effect of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine, innate immune and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34, 87–98. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2008.08.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pace, T. W., Negi, L. T., Sivilli, T. I., Issa, M. J., Cole, S. P., Adame, D. D., et al. (2010). Innate immune, neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress do not predict subsequent compassion meditation practice time. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 35, 310–315. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2009.06.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Salzberg, S. (1995). Loving-kindness: The revoluationary art of happiness. Boston: Shambhala.Google Scholar
- Shapiro, S. L., Bootzin, R. R., Figueredo, A. J., Lopez, A. M., & Schwartz, G. E. (2003). The efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction in the treatment of sleep disturbance in women with breast cancer: An exploratory study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 54, 85–91. doi: 10.1016/S0022-3999(02)00546-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Biegel, G. M. (2007). Teaching self-care to caregivers: Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(2), 105–115. doi: 10.1037/1931-39220.127.116.11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Werner, K., Jazaieri, H., Goldin, P. R., Ziv, M., Heimberg, R. G., & Gross, J. J. (2011). Self-compassion and social anxiety disorder. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping. doi: 10.1080/10615806.2011.608842.