A randomized controlled trial of self-compassion versus cognitive therapy for complex psychopathologies

Zhila Javidi, Kirsty N. Prior, Tracey L. Sloan, Malcolm J. Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Third wave cognitive behavioural therapy has drawn attention to the value of interventions focusing on improved psychological functioning and wellbeing, rather than recovery or absence of disorder alone. The current study compared behavioural therapy combined with either self-compassion training or cognitive therapy (experimental treatment with standard treatment) in a randomized controlled trial for an initial presentation of a depressive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder at a publicly funded outpatient unit. A battery of reliable and valid scales to assess the severity of the presenting problem and level of self-compassion were administered at both commencement and end of a 12-week treatment intervention. Basic sociodemographic variables were also recorded. Effective randomization was achieved for all variables except self-compassion, for which the standard treatment group reported higher levels than the experimental group. The greater efficacy of the experimental protocol was indicated by significant time by group interactions in severity measures over time in the experimental group relative to the standard group. This study contributes to a relatively fledgling literature on the therapeutic efficacy of self-compassion, providing both researchers and clinicians with valuable insight into the circumstances in which training in self-compassion may be of potential benefit when incorporated into standard practice. The trial was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (TRN 12617000885392, June 16, 2017).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-954
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date20 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Behaviour therapy
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Depressive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Self-compassion


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