University of Twente Student Theses


Compassion focused therapy among clients with PTSD : a pilot study

Reekers, C.R. (2021) Compassion focused therapy among clients with PTSD : a pilot study.

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Abstract:People who experience life-threatening event are at risk of developing Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is recognized by several main symptoms: reexperiencing the traumatic event, avoiding trauma-related triggers and experiencing hyperarousal. PTSD is mostly treated through EMDR or Prolonged exposure. Nevertheless, positive psychology is an upcoming approach to treat PTSD. Individuals diagnoses with PTSD often experience feelings of guilt and shame. During the Compassion focused therapy (CFT), the clients learn to develop more self-compassion in order to diminish feelings of guilt and shame. Previous studies show that CFT can provide decrease in PTSD symptoms and increase in positive mental health. This pilot study aims to investigate possible effects of CFT regarding PTSD symptoms and well-being in an outpatient setting. Method The setting of the study is the center of Psychotrauma of Mediant where individuals diagnosed with PTSD receive outpatient treatment. The current pilot study measured a pre- and posttest design regarding CFT. The study included 7 participants in analyzing the PTSD symptoms and 11 participants in analyzing the feelings of well-being. These participants received individual and group CFT. 2 CFT groups has been successfully carried out so far. Data of clients who participated in these 2 groups are included. The first CFT group has been carried out in April 2019 and the second CFT group started in January 2020. The following questionnaires were analyzed: Posttraumatic stress disorder Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) and the Mental Health Continuum-Short Form (MHC-SF). Results Results show no significant reduction in the PTSD symptoms after CFT. The subscale avoidance reveals a medium to large decrease, just not significant (p = 0.072, r = -0.482). Individual results display 4 individuals who decreased in PTSD symptoms and 3 who increased. 2 participants who decreased in PTSD symptoms show a large amount of decrease. Individual results display 4 individuals who decreased in total PTSD symptoms and 3 who increased after CFT. It is noticeable, that 2 individuals show a large change in total PTSD symptoms. These individuals both participated in group 2. Next to that, the study reveals a medium significant increase in well-being after receiving CFT (p < 0.05, r = -0.46). The subscale emotional well-being shows a medium to large increase after participation in CFT (p = 0.028, r = -0.469). Group level analyses reveal that the 5 participants in group 2 included in the analysis show an increase in well-being. In total, 9 participants experienced an increase in well-being and 2 participants reported a decrease in well-being. Discussion Although only the data from a limited number of clients could be included, this pilot study indicates that PTSD symptoms might not decrease after receiving CFT. However, there might be an indication for increase in well-being in clients suffering from PTSD after participating in CFT. Due to the pilot study design, the small number of participants and other limitations of the study, no firm conclusions can be stated. Follow up research is recommended to execute larger trial research in order to further investigate the effects of CFT in the current setting taken into consideration the limitations of the current study. It is recommended to add demographical and personal data, include a control group and to add multiple measure moment in time in order to investigate the course of the PTSD symptoms and feelings of well-being. In that way, larger trial research can provide in further development and improvement of CFT focused on individuals suffering from PTSD.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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