Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Kristina C. Gordon

Committee Members

Greg Stuart, Todd M. Moore, David Patterson

Abstract

Applying mindfulness techniques to the treatment of substance use disorders is relatively new; however, initial studies show promising results (e.g. Bowen et al., 2009; Witkiewitz & Bowen, 2010). Similarly, treatment-seeking substance users may find benefits in treatments that increase levels of self-compassion, a construct that uses mindfulness and allows awareness of personal faults (e.g. relapses) without becoming paralyzed by shame. Instead, individuals who are compassionate toward their failures are more likely to take healthy steps to address them (Leary, Tate, Adams, Allen, & Hancock, 2007). This study added a brief self-compassion group treatment to an existing Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) of substance users at a community mental health center to explore the potential benefits of increasing self-compassion in this population. Overall, 20 persons were recruited for participation in this study; 10 of those received the 5-session self-compassion group treatment and 10 were recruited for a treatment as usual control. Results found self-compassion to be related to decreased drug use, cravings, general psychological symptoms, and an increase in self-soothing behaviors. Additionally, all participants experienced a significant reduction in cravings, and those who participated in the self-compassion group therapy showed increased and maintained levels of self-compassion and self-soothing behaviors. Limitations and future directions are discussed.

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