The development and implementation of a self-compassion intervention for adolescents : a pilot study
McGehee, James Pittman
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The adolescent stage of development is particularly challenging. Because of the biological, cognitive, and social transitions of adolescence, this stage of development is seen as an important time for interventions promoting well-being (Steinberg, 1999). Recent research suggests that self-compassionate teens experience greater psychological health than those without self-compassion (Neff & McGehee, in press). To date, however, there have been no self-compassion interventions targeted at the adolescent population. This dissertation is a pilot study investigating the development, implementation and assessment of a self-compassion intervention for an adolescent population. The intervention took the form of a weekend “Self-Compassion Retreat” for high-school students, ages 14-17. Over a two day period, 17 subjects participated in the intervention focused on helping the students to understand and begin to incorporate the three dimensions of self-compassion – self kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. The intervention attempted to deepen student understanding of self-compassion by focusing on experiential and contemplative learning strategies (Kabat-Zinn, 1997; Hart, 2004). The 17 students were introduced to the concept of self-compassion through presentations, small group and contemplative exercises as well as individual interviews. The self-compassion intervention was assessed by testing participants along five different dimensions: self-compassion, depression, anxiety, social connectedness, and happiness at three different time points. The intervention was also assessed through individual interviews following the intervention. Though the quantitative results from the pilot study yielded no significant data for the current sample, the qualitative data provided promising information for future interventions aimed at increasing self-compassion.