Group-Based Compassion-Focused Therapy as an Adjunct to Outpatient Treatment for Eating Disorders: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Allison Catherine Kelly, Lucene Wisniewski, Caitlin Martin-Wagar, Ellen Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


The current study sought to assess the acceptability and feasibility of a compassion-focused therapy (CFT) group as an adjunct to evidence-based outpatient treatment for eating disorders, and to examine its preliminary efficacy relative to treatment as usual (TAU). Twenty-two outpatients with various types of eating disorders were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of TAU (n = 11) or TAU plus weekly CFT groups adapted for an eating disorder population (CFT + TAU; n = 11). Participants in both conditions completed measures of self-compassion, fears of compassion, shame and eating disorder pathology at baseline, week 4, week 8 and week 12. Additionally, participants receiving the CFT group completed measures assessing acceptability and feasibility of the group. Results indicated that the CFT group demonstrated strong acceptability; attendance was high and the group retained over 80% of participants. Participants rated the group positively and indicated they would be very likely to recommend it to peers with similar symptoms. Intention-to-treat analyses revealed that compared to the TAU condition, the CFT + TAU condition yielded greater improvements in self-compassion, fears of self-compassion, fears of receiving compassion, shame and eating disorder pathology over the 12 weeks. Results suggest that group-based CFT, offered in conjunction with evidence-based outpatient TAU for eating disorders, may be an acceptable, feasible and efficacious intervention. Furthermore, eating disorder patients appear to see benefit in, and observe gains from, working on the CFT goals of overcoming fears of compassion, developing more self-compassion and accessing more compassion from others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-487
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Compassion-focused Therapy
  • Eating Disorders
  • Fear of Self-compassion
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Self-compassion
  • Shame


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