Compassion focused therapy for shame-prone individuals : an eight-week group therapy investigation.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Shame is recognised as a particularly intense and painful experience that has profound negative psychological and behavioural consequences. Individuals highly prone to shame are notoriously difficult to treat and new interventions such as Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) have been developed to help these individuals develop a more compassionate view of their self. The current research investigated the impact of CFT on nonverbal shame, trait shame, and psychological difficulties in 16 shame-prone clinical participants during an 8-week group therapy protocol administered by a clinical psychologist. The study manipulated and examined differences in the internalisation process, where some participants internalised a single compassionate person or animal, while others internalised the group as a compassionate force. Firstly, it was hypothesised that participants in both conditions would experience a reduction in nonverbal shame, trait shame, and psychological difficulties with therapy. Secondly, it was hypothesised that participants who received adapted CFT would experience greater reductions in nonverbal shame, trait shame, and psychological difficulties than participants who received standard CFT. To assess changes in trait shame, relationship functioning, self-compassion, intimacy fears, and empathy, participants completed a number of self-report measures pre-treatment, mid-treatment, post-treatment, and two months post-treatment. Nonverbal indicators of shame were coded using video recordings of the group therapy sessions. In both conditions, participants reported a significant reduction in trait shame and intimacy fears, and a significant increase in relationship functioning and self-compassion with therapy. On all outcome measures these improvements were found to stabilise after therapy had finished. The results found no significant change in nonverbal shame with therapy. In addition, no significant differences were found between the two conditions on any of the outcome measures, including nonverbal shame. Taken together, the results of the current research indicate support for hypothesis one, but not hypothesis two.