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Commentary Regarding Wilson et al. (2018) “Effectiveness of ‘Self-Compassion’ Related Therapies: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” All Is Not as It Seems

  • James N. KirbyEmail author
  • Paul Gilbert


This commentary paper reviews the recently made claims by Wilson et al. (Mindfulness, 2018) from their meta-analysis of what they call self-compassion therapies. They argue that a range of different therapy modalities can be classified as self-compassion therapies, including compassion-focused therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness-based interventions. The results from their meta-analyses found that these self-compassion therapies were effective at increasing self-compassion and reducing depressive and anxiety symptoms. This meta-analysis also found that self-compassion-related therapies did not produce better outcomes than active control conditions. This indicates that such self-compassion therapies are unlikely to have any specific effect over and above the general benefits of any active treatment. We will indicate a number of reasons why this conclusion is not warranted. We first contextualise what is meant by compassion-focused therapies, and we then discuss four key concerns: (1) the heterogeneity and classification of the “self-compassion therapies”; (2) the measure used to assess self-compassion; (3) the comparison to the active control conditions; and (4) the inaccurate comments made about the Kirby et al. (Behavior Therapy, 2017b) meta-analysis. Although it is encouraging to see the increasing number of randomised controlled trials, and now meta-analyses of compassion-focused therapies, the conclusions made by Wilson et al. (Mindfulness, 2018) in their meta-analysis are misleading.


Compassion Compassion-focused therapy Self-compassion Meta-analysis 


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Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Compassionate Mind Research Group, School of PsychologyThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.The University of DerbyDerbyUK

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