Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 90 Issue 3 (September 2017), Pages 245-509

Compassion interventions: The programmes, the evidence, and implications for research and practice (pages 432-455)


Over the last 10–15 years, there has been a substantive increase in compassion‐based interventions aiming to improve psychological functioning and well‐being.


This study provides an overview and synthesis of the currently available compassion‐based interventions. What do these programmes looks like, what are their aims, and what is the state of evidence underpinning each of them?


This overview has found at least eight different compassion‐based interventions (e.g., Compassion‐Focused Therapy, Mindful Self‐Compassion, Cultivating Compassion Training, Cognitively Based Compassion Training), with six having been evaluated in randomized controlled trials, and with a recent meta‐analysis finding that compassion‐based interventions produce moderate effect sizes for suffering and improved life satisfaction.


Although further research is warranted, the current state of evidence highlights the potential benefits of compassion‐based interventions on a range of outcomes that clinicians can use in clinical practice with clients.

Practitioner points

  • There are eight established compassion intervention programmes with six having RCT evidence.
  • The most evaluated intervention to date is compassion‐focused therapy.
  • Further RCTs are needed in clinical populations for all compassion interventions.
  • Ten recommendations are provided to improve the evidence‐base of compassion interventions.

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