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Cultivating the Compassionate Self: an Exploration of the Mechanisms of Change in Compassionate Mind Training

Marcela Matos, Marcela Matos, Duarte, Cristiana ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6566-273X, Duarte, Joana, Pinto-Gouveia, José, Petrocchi, Nicola and Gilbert, Paul (2021) Cultivating the Compassionate Self: an Exploration of the Mechanisms of Change in Compassionate Mind Training. Mindfulness.

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Mechanisms of change of CMT_Accepted Pre-print.pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract

Objectives
The current study aimed to examine the mechanisms of change that mediate the impact of a compassionate mind training (CMT) intervention, in particular, whether changes in compassion, fears of compassion and heart rate variability (HRV) would mediate the effects of a brief CMT intervention on psychological vulnerability factors, mental health indicators and positive affect.

Methods
Using a longitudinal design, general population participants were randomly assigned to one of the two conditions: compassionate mind training (n = 56) and wait list control (n = 37). Participants in the CMT condition attended a psychoeducation session and practiced a set of core CMT exercises for 2 weeks. Self-report measures of compassion, fears of compassion, self-criticism, shame, depression, stress and positive affect were completed, and HRV was assessed at pre- and post-intervention.

Results
Mediation analyses revealed that increases in compassion for self and from others and reductions in fears of compassion for self, for others and from others mediated the effects of CMT on self-criticism and shame. In depression and stress, compassion for the self and from others and fears of compassion for the self emerged as significant mediators. Compassion for the self and from others and fears of compassion for self and from others significantly mediated the effect of CMT in safe affect. Compassion for the self, fears of compassion for self and for others and HRV mediated changes in relaxed affect.

Conclusions
Cultivating a compassionate mind/self-identity through the core components of CMT may stimulate vagal regulatory activity and positively impact one’s ability to experience and be open to compassion, and thus promote emotion regulation, well-being and mental health.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01717-2
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5657

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