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Psychol Psychother. 2015 Sep;88(3):285-303. doi: 10.1111/papt.12044. Epub 2014 Oct 20.

Self-compassion training for binge eating disorder: a pilot randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Psychology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.



The present pilot study sought to compare a compassion-focused therapy (CFT)-based self-help intervention for binge eating disorder (BED) to a behaviourally based intervention.


Forty-one individuals with BED were randomly assigned to 3 weeks of food planning plus self-compassion exercises; food planning plus behavioural strategies; or a wait-list control condition.


Participants completed weekly measures of binge eating and self-compassion; pre- and post-intervention measures of eating disorder pathology and depressive symptoms; and a baseline measure assessing fear of self-compassion.


Results showed that: (1) perceived credibility, expectancy, and compliance did not differ between the two interventions; (2) both interventions reduced weekly binge days more than the control condition; (3) the self-compassion intervention reduced global eating disorder pathology, eating concerns, and weight concerns more than the other conditions; (4) the self-compassion intervention increased self-compassion more than the other conditions; and (5) participants low in fear of self-compassion derived significantly more benefits from the self-compassion intervention than those high in fear of self-compassion.


Findings offer preliminary support for the usefulness of CFT-based interventions for BED sufferers. Results also suggest that for individuals to benefit from self-compassion training, assessing and lowering fear of self-compassion will be crucial.


Individuals with BED perceive self-compassion training self-help interventions, derived from CFT, to be as credible and as likely to help as behaviourally based interventions. The cultivation of self-compassion may be an effective approach for reducing binge eating, and eating, and weight concerns in individuals with BED. Teaching individuals with BED CFT-based self-help exercises may increase their self-compassion levels over a short period of time. It may be important for clinicians to assess and target clients' fear of self-compassion for clients to benefit from self-compassion training interventions.


Self-Compassion; binge eating disorder; compassion-focused therapy; eating disorders; fear of self-compassion; self-help

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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