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Self-Compassion: Theory and Measurement

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Handbook of Self-Compassion

Part of the book series: Mindfulness in Behavioral Health ((MIBH))


Self-compassion is a caring and supportive way of relating to oneself in times of distress. It involves kindness rather than harsh self-judgment, a sense of common humanity rather than isolation, and mindfulness rather than overidentification with painful thoughts and feelings. Self-compassion can take the form of tender self-acceptance – a gentle, nurturing stance that allows us to open to the imperfection of ourselves and our lives with warmth. It can also take the form of fierce action, protecting ourselves from harm and standing up to injustice, taking steps to meet our needs, and motivating needed change in our behavior or environment. This chapter focuses on the theoretical underpinnings of self-compassion and its measurement. Self-compassion is most commonly measured using the Self-Compassion Scale, for which extensive validity data exists. Factor analyses using state-of-the-art psychometric methods designed to examine multidimensional measures support the use of a total score or else six subscale scores. The factor structure of the SCS has been found to be invariant across cultures, although mean levels of self-compassion vary by age, gender, and nation. Other versions of the SCS exist, including a short version, a state version, and a youth version. Researchers are also increasingly using experimental methods to examine the benefits of self-compassion.

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Correspondence to Kristin Neff .

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Neff, K. (2023). Self-Compassion: Theory and Measurement. In: Finlay-Jones, A., Bluth, K., Neff, K. (eds) Handbook of Self-Compassion. Mindfulness in Behavioral Health. Springer, Cham.

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