, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 479–492 | Cite as

Making Friends with Yourself: A Mixed Methods Pilot Study of a Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Adolescents

  • Karen BluthEmail author
  • Susan A. Gaylord
  • Rebecca A. Campo
  • Michael C. Mullarkey
  • Lorraine Hobbs


The aims of this mixed-method pilot study were to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary psychosocial outcomes of “Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self-compassion Program for Teens” (MFY), an adaptation of the adult Mindful Self-compassion program. Thirty-four students age 14–17 were enrolled in this waitlist-controlled crossover study. Participants were randomized to either the waitlist or intervention group and administered online surveys at baseline, after the first cohort participated in the intervention, and after the waitlist crossovers participated in the intervention. Attendance and retention data were collected to determine feasibility, and audiorecordings of the 6-week class were analyzed to determine acceptability of the program. Findings indicated that MFY is a feasible and acceptable program for adolescents. Compared with the waitlist control, the intervention group had significantly greater self-compassion and life satisfaction and significantly lower depression than the waitlist control, with trends for greater mindfulness, greater social connectedness, and lower anxiety. When waitlist crossover results were combined with that of the first intervention group, findings indicated significantly greater mindfulness and self-compassion, and significantly less anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative affect post-intervention. Additionally, regression results demonstrated that self-compassion and mindfulness predicted decreases in anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and increases in life satisfaction post-intervention. MFY shows promise as a program to increase psychosocial well-being in adolescents through increasing mindfulness and self-compassion. Further testing is needed to substantiate the findings.


Adolescents Mindfulness Self-compassion Teens Emotional well-being 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

This study was funded by the University of North Carolina University Research Council and in part by grant number T32AT003378-04 from the National Center on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Analyses and conclusions are the responsibility of the authors rather than the funders. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflicts of Interest

No authors have any conflicts of interest.


  1. Akin, U., & Akin, A. (2014). Examining the predictive role of self-compassion on sense of community in Turkish adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 1–10Google Scholar
  2. Albano, A. M., Chorpita, B. F., & Barlow, D. H. (2003). Childhood anxiety disorders. In E. J. Mash & R. A. Barkley (Eds.), Child psychopathology (pp. 279–329). New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
  3. Angold, A., Costello, E. J., & Messer, S. C. (1995). Development of a short questionnaire for use in epidemiological studies of depression in children and adolescents. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 5, 237–249.Google Scholar
  4. Barry, C. T., Loflin, D. C., & Doucette, H. (2015). Adolescent self-compassion: Associations with narcissism, self-esteem, aggression, and internalizing symptoms in at-risk males. Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, 77, 118–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biegel, G., Brown, K., Shapiro, S., & Schubert, C. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for the treatment of adolescent psychiatric outpatients: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology, 77(5), 855–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bluth, K., & Blanton, P. (2014a). The influence of self-compassion on emotional well-being among early and older adolescent males and females. Journal of Positive Psychology. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2014.936967.Google Scholar
  7. Bluth, K., & Blanton, P. (2014b). Mindfulness and self-compassion: exploring pathways of adolescent wellbeing. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(7), 1298–1309.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Borenstein, M., Hedges, L. V., Higgens, J. P. T., & Rothstein, H. R. (2009). Introduction to meta-analysis. Chichester: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Britton, W., Bootzin, R., Cousins, J., Hasler, B., Peck, T., & Shapiro, S. (2010). The contribution of mindfulness practice to a multicomponent behavioral sleep intervention following substance abuse treatment in adolescents: a treatment-development study. Substance Abuse, 31, 86–97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Broderick, P., & Metz, S. (2009). Learning to BREATHE: a pilot trial of a mindfulness curriculum for adolescents. Advances in school mental health promotion, 2(1), 35–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown, K., & West, Loverich, & Biegel. (2011). Assessing adolescent mindfulness: validation of an adapted mindful attention awareness scale in adolescent normative and psychiatric populations. Psychological Assessment. doi: 10.1037/a0021338.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  13. Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24(4), 385–396.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. P. (2011). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Crocetti, E., Klimstra, T., Keijsers, L., Hale, W. W., & Meeus, W. (2009). Anxiety trajectories and identity development in adolescence: a five-wave longitudinal study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 839–849.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Cumming, G. (2014). The new statistics: why and how. Psychological Science, 25, 7–29.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Giedd, J. (2008). The teen brain: insights from neuroimaging. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 321–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Greco, L., Baer, R. A., & Smith, G. T. (2011). Assessing mindfulness in children and adolescents: development and validation of the child and adolescent mindfulness measure (CAMM). Psychological Assessment, 23(3), 606–614.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Horwitz, A. G., Hill, R. M., & King, C. A. (2011). Specific coping behaviors in relation to adolescent depression and suicidal ideation. Journal of adolescence, 34(5), 1077–1085.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Hseih, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15, 1277–1288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huebner, E. S. (1991). Initial Development of the Student's Life Satisfaction Scale. School Psychology International, 12(3), 231–240. doi: 10.1177/0143034391123010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Huebner, E. S., Funk, B. A., & Gilman, R. (2000). Cross-sectional and longitudinal psychosocial correlates of adolescent life satisfaction reports. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 16(1), 53–64. doi: 10.1177/082957350001600104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jungbluth, N. J., & Shirk, S. R. (2013). Promoting homework adherence in cognitive-behavioral therapy for adolescent depression. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 42(4), 545–553.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: mindfulness in everyday life. New York: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  25. Kline, R. B. (2013). Beyond significance testing: statistics reform in the behavioral sciences. Washington: APA Books.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. LeBlanc, J. C., Almudevar, A., Brooks, S. J., & Kutcher, S. (2002). Screening for adolescent depression: comparison of the Kutcher Adolescent Depression Scale with the Beck depression inventory. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 12(2), 113–126. doi: 10.1089/104454602760219153.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Lee, R. M., & Robbins, S. B. (1995). Measuring belongingness—the social connectedness and the social assurance scales. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 42(2), 232–241. doi: 10.1037//0022-0167.42.2.232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lee, R. M., & Robbins, S. B. (1998). The relationship between social connectedness and anxiety, self-esteem, and social identity. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45, 338–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. MacBeth, A., & Gumley, A. (2012). Exploring compassion: a meta-analysis of the association between self-compassion and psychopathology. Clin Psychol Rev, 32(6), 545–552. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2012.06.003.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Marshall, S. L., Parker, P. D., Ciarrochi, J., Sahdra, B., Jackson, C. J., & Heaven, P. C. L. (2015). Self-compassion protects against the negative effects of low self-esteem: a longitudinal study in a large adolescent sample. Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, 74, 116–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mendelson, T., Greenberg, M., Dariotis, J. K., Gould, L. F., Rhoades, B. L., & Leaf, P. J. (2010). Feasibility and preliminary outcomes of a school-based mindfulness intervention for urban youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38, 985–994.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Neff, K. D. (2003). Self-compassion: an alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2, 85–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. (2013). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self-compassion program. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.Google Scholar
  34. Neff, K. D., & McGehee, P. (2010). Self-compassion and psychological resilience among adolescents and young adults. Self and Identity, 9(3), 225–240. doi: 10.1080/15298860902979307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Raes, F. (2011). The effect of self-compassion on the development of depression symptoms in a non-clinical sample. Mindfulness, 2(1), 33–36. doi: 10.1007/s12671-011-0040-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Raes, F., Pommier, E., Neff, K. D., & Van Gucht, D. (2011). Construction and factorial validation of a short form of the self-compassion scale. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 18(3), 250–255. doi: 10.1002/cpp.702.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Lawlor, M. S. (2010). The effects of a mindfulness-based education program on pre- and early adolescents’ well-being and social and emotional competence. Mindfulness, 1(3), 137–151. doi: 10.1007/s12671-010-0011-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: a new approach to preventing relapse. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  39. Sibinga, E., Stewart, M., Mahyar, T., Welsh, C. K., Hutton, N., & Ellen, J. M. (2008). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for HIV-infected youth: a pilot study. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 4, 36–37. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2007.10.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Smeets, E., Neff, K., Alberts, H., & Peters, M. (2014). Meeting suffering with kindness: effects of a brief self-compassion intervention for female college students. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 70, 794–807. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22076.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., Lushene, R. E., Vagg, P. R., & Jacobs, G. A. (1983). Manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  42. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basis of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Susman, E., & Dorn, L. (2009). Puberty: its role in development. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  44. Tanaka, M., Wekerle, C., Schmuck, M. L., & Pagila-Boak, A. (2011). The linkages among childhood maltreatment, adolescent mental health, and self-compassion in child welfare adolescents. Child Abuse and Neglect, 35, 887–898.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Watson, T., Clark, L., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Wilkinson, L., & APA Task Force in Statistical Inference. (1999). Statistical methods for psychology journals: guidelines and explanations. American Psychologist, 54, 594–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yarcheski, A., & Mahon, N. (1999). The moderator-mediator role of social support in early adolescence. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 21(5), 685–698.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Zeller, M., Yuval, K., Nitzan-Assayag, Y., & Bernstein, A. (2014). Self-compassion in recovery following potentially traumatic stress: longitudinal study of at-risk youth. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 43(4), 645–653. doi: 10.1007/s10802-014-9937-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Bluth
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan A. Gaylord
    • 1
  • Rebecca A. Campo
    • 1
  • Michael C. Mullarkey
    • 2
  • Lorraine Hobbs
    • 3
  1. 1.Program on Integrative Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, CB #7200, School of MedicineUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Clinical PsychologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.University of California-San Diego Center for MindfulnessUniversity of California at San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

Personalised recommendations