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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340

Mindful Self-Compassion Training to Reduce Stress and Burnout Symptoms among practicing psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention

Terese Eriksson1, Linnea Germundsjö1,  Elisabeth Åström1 and  Michael Rönnlund1*
  • 1Department of Psychology, Umeå University, Sweden

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a six-week web-based mindful self-compassion program on stress and burnout symptoms in a group of helping professionals.
Method: In a randomized controlled trial 101 practicing psychologists were assigned to a training group (n = 51) and a wait-list control group (n = 49). The training program involved 15 min exercises per day, six days a week, for six weeks. The participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), the Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Shirom Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ) pre and post intervention.
Results: Eighty-one participants (n = 40 in the training group, n = 41 in the control group) took part in the pre and post assessments. Selective gains for the intervention group were observed for SCS total score (d = 0.86; d = .94 for the self-compassion scale). Levels of self-coldness were reduced following the training and mindfulness scores increased (d = 0.60). Most important, levels of perceived stress (d = .59) and burnout symptoms (d = .44 for SMBQ total, mental aspects in particular) were lower post intervention. The results largely confirmed the hypothesis that the measures of distress would be more strongly related to self-coldness than self-compassion, a pattern seen in cross-sectional analyses and longitudinal analyses, at least for burnout.
Conclusions: The mindful self-compassion program appeared effective to increase self-compassion/reduce self-coldness, and to alleviate stress and symptoms of burnout in the study sample. Additional studies, preferably three-armed RCTs with long-term follow-up, are warranted to further evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

Keywords: self-compassion, burnout, Psychologists, intervention, web-based

Received: 17 Aug 2018; Accepted: 08 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Daniela Villani, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy

Reviewed by:

Silvia Serino, Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), Switzerland
Giulia Corno, Istituto Auxologico Italiano (IRCCS), Italy  

Copyright: © 2018 Eriksson, Germundsjö, Åström and Rönnlund. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Michael Rönnlund, Department of Psychology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden, michael.ronnlund@umu.se