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Scand J Psychol. 2017 Oct;58(5):443-450. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12385. Epub 2017 Aug 28.

Does a short self-compassion intervention for students increase healthy self-regulation? A randomized control trial.

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Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.


The primary aim of this study was to examine the effects of a two-week self-compassion course on healthy self-regulation (personal growth self-efficacy and healthy impulse control) and unhealthy self-regulation (self-judgment and habitual negative self-directed thinking) in university students. We also examined the effects on self-compassion, anxiety and depression. Students (N = 158, 85% women, mean age = 25 years) were randomized to an intervention group and a waiting-list control group in a multi-baseline randomized control trial. Healthy self-control was measured by the Personal Growth Initiative Scale (PGIS) and the Self-Control Scale; unhealthy self-control was measured by the Non-judgement subscale from the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (reversed) and the Habit Index of Negative Thinking (HINT). Secondary outcomes were measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-trait), the Major Depression Inventory (MDI), and the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS). A 2 × 3 repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed gains for the intervention-group in personal growth self-efficacy and healthy impulse-control and reductions in self-judgment and habitual negative self-directed thinking, as well as increases in self-compassion and reductions in anxiety and depression. After all participants had completed the course, the groups were combined and repeated measures ANOVAs showed that changes remained at six-month follow-up for personal growth self-efficacy, self-judgment and habitual negative self-directed thinking; as well as for self-compassion, anxiety and depression. Concluding, a short self-compassion course seems an effective method of increasing self-compassion and perceived control over one's life for university students, as well as increasing mental health.


Self-compassion; mental health; mindfulness; randomized control trial; self-regulation; students

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