Fears of Compassion in a Depressed Population Implication for Psychotherapy

  • Gilbert P
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While psychological therapies for depression have advanced in the last 20 years, still many people respond only partially and remain vulnerable to relapse. Insight into the limitations of our psychological therapies might be obtained from recent research that has revealed, in nonclinical populations, that some people can be fearful of positive emotions especially affiliative and compassion-focused ones. This study explores the fears of compassion in a clinical population and their associations with selfcriticism, self-compassion and depression, anxiety and stress. 53 depressed patients completed a series of self-report scales. Fears of compassion, particularly for oneself and from others, were strongly linked to self-criticism, depression, anxiety and stress, and negatively associated with self-compassion and self-reassurance. Since compassion and the affiliative emotions associated with compassion play a fundamental role in emotion regulation, individuals who are blocked or fearful of accessing these emotions are likely to be struggle with emotional regulation and the psychotherapeutic process. Research on the fears of compassion and affiliative emotions suggests these are important therapeutic targets.




Gilbert, P. (2014). Fears of Compassion in a Depressed Population Implication for Psychotherapy. Journal of Depression and Anxiety, S2(01). https://doi.org/10.4172/2167-1044.s2-003

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