Self-Compassion for Clinicians
Self-compassion developed for yourself will make you a better clinician for others. Self-compassion is highly correlated with a decrease in mental illness symptoms, particular in depression and anxiety. When we know how to personally employ these tools, it is easier to understand how to help others implement them.
If you’ve got about 15 minutes, read this. It’s a great overview of the practice of self-compassion, as conceptualized by Dr. Kristen Neff. And here’s a brief explanation of self-compassion and why it matters (taken from here, which links to research on this):
Self-compassion has been defined as being kind to one’s self (Neff, 2003b) and being able to use self-reassurance and soothing in times of adversity (Gilbert, 2009; Neff, 2003b). It includes being nonjudgmental about one’s self (Gilbert, 2009; Neff, 2003b) and recognizing one’s experience as part of the human condition (Neff, 2003b). Self-criticism, on the other hand, is characterized by maladaptive emotion-regulation strategies such as being harsh and judgmental about one’s self (Gilbert, 2009; Neff, 2003b). It is associated with feeling isolated (Neff, 2003b) and being in flight or fight or social rank mode, therefore exacerbating a sense of threat in difficult times (Gilbert, 2009).
Whereas self-criticism has been associated with a number of mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety (Clark, Watson, & Mineka, 1994), there is growing evidence that self-compassion has beneficial effects on mental health and well-being (e.g., Galante, Galante, Bekkers, & Gallacher, 2014) from two lines of research.
Reflection: Now think of a client you recently met with who could benefit from this information. Which part would you share with them, and how would you share it in an effective and accessible way? What might be some of their responses? How does your own work around self-compassion impact your work?