Self-compassion in health professionals

Boellinghaus, I., Jones, F. W., & Hutton, J. (2014). The Role of Mindfulness and Loving-Kindness Meditation in Cultivating Self-Compassion and Other-Focused Concern in Health Care Professionals. Mindfulness, 1-10. Full text.

Therapists and other health professionals might benefit from interventions that increase their self-compassion and other-focused concern since these may strengthen their relationships with clients, reduce the chances of empathetic distress fatigue and burnout and increase their well-being.

This article aimed to review the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) and loving-kindness mediation (LKM) in cultivating clinicians’ self-compassion and other-focused concern. Despite methodological limitations, the studies reviewed offer some support to the hypothesis that MBIs can increase self-compassion in health professionals, but provide a more mixed picture with regard to MBIs’ affect on other-focused concern. The latter finding may in part be due to ceiling effects; therefore future research, employing more sensitive measures, would be beneficial.

Turning to LKM, there is encouraging preliminary evidence from non-clinician samples that LKM, or courses including LKM and related practices, can increase self-compassion and other-focused concern. As well as extending the LKM evidence base to health professionals and using more robust, large-scale designs, future research could usefully seek to identify the characteristics of people who find LKM challenging and the supports necessary to teach them LKM safely.