Psychological and physiological effects of emotion focused training for self-compassion and self-protection
Emotion Focused Training for Self-Compassion and Self-Protection (EFT-SCP) is a novel intervention developed on the basis of the latest findings on self-criticism from Emotion-focused therapy and existing programs designed to cultivate compassion. EFT-SCP is designed to encourage participants to cultivate self-compassion and protective anger as a way of reducing selfcriticism. Our goal was to investigate the effect of this group-based intervention on self-criticism, self-protection, and self-compassion. A total of 73 students were assigned to the EFT-SCP intervention (n=19), no-treatment control (n=34) or to an active control group (n=20). The intervention group met weekly for 1.5 hours and were instructed to incorporate EFT-SCP tasks into their daily life for 12 weeks. Whilst the no-treatment group did not undergo an intervention, the active control group completed an adapted expressive writing task once a week. In addition to the assessment of heart rate variability during imagery tasks, participants also completed self-reported measures of self-compassion and self-criticism before and after the intervention. Compared with both control groups, the intervention group showed a significant increase in heart rate variability following EFT-SCP (during self-critical imagery, P=.049; probability of superiority was .63, and during self-compassionate imagery P=.007; probability of superiority was .62, both effect sizes were medium) and significant decreases in self-criticism (Hated Self P=.017; .34 and Inadequate Self P<.001; .33) and selfuncompassionate responding (P<.001; .39). All three effect sizes were small. Participating in EFT-SCP had a positive effect on psychological and physiological outcomes.
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