Effectiveness of the Compassion-Focused Therapy on Self-Criticism and Marital Intimacy among Couples


  • Mohamad Sadegh Aminzadeh MSc, Department of Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Neyshabur Branch, Neyshabur, Iran
  • Mustafa Bolghan-Abadi Department of Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Neyshabur Branch, Neyshabur, Iran


Couples therapy methods, Female, Humans, Interpersonal relations;, Male, Marital therapy, Psychological tests, Psychometrics, Self-disclosure


Background: The present study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of compassion-focused therapy (CFT) on self-criticism and marital intimacy among couples. A quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design with a control group was implemented.

Methods: The research method was quasi-experimental with pretest-posttest and control group design. The population consisted of all couples that volunteered to participate in the study in Mashhad, Iran, in 2021, and the sample included 30 individuals (15 people in each group). The participants were selected using the volunteer sampling technique and were randomly assigned to the experimental and control groups. The experimental group received 8 sessions of the CFT intervention, while the control group did not receive any psychotherapeutic intervention. The instruments implemented in the study included the CFT package, the Levels of Self-Criticism Scale (LOSC), and the Marital Intimacy Scale. The data of the study were analyzed using descriptive statistics, while the inferential data were analyzed by the multivariate analysis of covariance using SPSS software.

Results: There were significant differences between the experimental and control groups in terms of self-criticism (F = 11.03, P = 0.003) and marital intimacy (F = 11.91, P = 0.003). In other words, implementing the CFT intervention reduced self-criticism and increased marital intimacy among couples.

Conclusion: It was concluded that counselors, therapists (in the fields of couple therapy, family, and individual) and other specialists in mental health could implement the CFT intervention to reduce self-criticism and increase marital intimacy among couples.


Araghian, S., Nejat, H., Touzandehjani, H., & Bagherzadeh Golmakani, Z. (2020). Comparing the effectiveness of quality of life therapy and compassion-focused therapy on the quality of interpersonal relationships and distress tolerance in women with marital conflict. J Fundam Ment Health, 22(3), 145-154.

Aronson, E. (2003). Readings about the social animal. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Bagarozzi, D. A. (2014). Enhancing intimacy in marriage: A clinician's guide. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.

Bagherian R., Ahmadzadeh G, Baghbanian A. (2009). Relationship between dimensions of locus of control and mental health in Iranian university students. Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci. , 3(1), 33-7.

Beaumont, E., Irons, C., Rayner, G., & Dagnall, N. (2016). Does compassion-focused therapy training for health care educators and providers increase self-compassion and reduce self-persecution and self-criticism? J Contin.Educ Health Prof., 36(1), 4-10. doi:10.1097/CEH.0000000000000023 [doi];00005141-201603610-00002 [pii]. Retrieved from PM:26954239

Bershad, C., Haber, D. S., & Prentice-Hall, I. (1997). Prentice Hall Human Sexuality. Hoboken, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Blatt, S. J., & Luyten, P. (2011). Relatedness and self-definition in normal and disrupted personality development. In Horowitz L. M. & Strack. S (Eds). Handbook of interpersonal psychology: Theory, research, assessment, and therapeutic interventions (pp. 37-56). Hoboken, NJ, US: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Boersma, K., Hakanson, A., Salomonsson, E., & Johansson, I. (2015). Compassion focused therapy to counteract shame, self-criticism and isolation. A replicated single case experimental study for individuals with social anxiety. J Contemp Psychother, 45(2), 89-98.

Brennan, M., Emmerling, M., & Whelton, W. (2014). Emotion-focused group therapy: Addressing self-criticism in the treatment of eating disorders. Couns Psychother Res, 15, 1-9.

Cuppage, J., Baird, K., Gibson, J., Booth, R., & Hevey, D. (2018). Compassion focused therapy: Exploring the effectiveness with a transdiagnostic group and potential processes of change. Br.J Clin Psychol, 57(2), 240-254. doi:10.1111/bjc.12162 [doi]. Retrieved from PM:29044607

Diedrich, A., Grant, M., Hofmann, S. G., Hiller, W., & Berking, M. (2014). Self-compassion as an emotion regulation strategy in major depressive disorder. Behav Res Ther, 58, 43-51. doi:S0005-7967(14)00075-8 [pii];10.1016/j.brat.2014.05.006 [doi]. Retrieved from PM:24929927

Gilbert, P. (2009). Introducing compassion-focused therapy. Adv Psychiatr Treat, 15(3), 199-208.

Gilbert, P. (2010). Compassion focused therapy: Distinctive features. London, UK: Routledge.

Gilbert, P. (2014). The origins and nature of compassion focused therapy. Br.J Clin Psychol, 53(1), 6-41. doi:10.1111/bjc.12043 [doi]. Retrieved from PM:24588760

Gilbert, P., & Irons, C. (2008). Shame, self-criticism, and self-compassion in adolescence. Adolescent emotional development and the emergence of depressive disorders, 1, 195-214.

Gilbert, P., McEwan, K., Gibbons, L., Chotai, S., Duarte, J., & Matos, M. (2012). Fears of compassion and happiness in relation to alexithymia, mindfulness, and self-criticism. Psychol Psychother., 85(4), 374-390. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8341.2011.02046.x [doi]. Retrieved from PM:23080529

Irons, C., & Lad, S. (2017). Using compassion focused therapy to work with shame and self-criticism in complex trauma. Australian Clinical Psychologist, 3(1), 1743.

Jacobson, E. H. K., Wilson, K. G., Solomon Kurz, A., & Kellum, K. K. (2018). Examining self-compassion in romantic relationships. J Contextual Behav Sci, 8, 69-73.

Kolts , R. L., Hayes S.C., & Gilbert, P. (2016). CFT made simple: A clinician's guide to practicing compassion-focused therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Krieger, T., Reber, F., von, G. B., Urech, A., Moser, C. T., Schulz, A. et al. (2019). An internet-based compassion-focused intervention for increased self-criticism: A randomized controlled trial. Behav Ther, 50(2), 430-445. doi:S0005-7894(18)30106-0 [pii];10.1016/j.beth.2018.08.003 [doi]. Retrieved from PM:30824257

Lotfi, B., Jajarmi, M., & Mohammadipour, M. (2021). The effectiveness of compassion-based couple therapy on increasing segregation and reducing marital conflicts. Community Health Journal, 15(2), 40-49.

Mashek, D. J., & Aron, A. (2004). Handbook of Closeness and Intimacy. Mahawah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Neff, K. D., & McGehee, P. (2010). Self-compassion and psychological resilience among adolescents and young adults. Self Identity, 9(3), 225-240.

Petrocchi, N., Cosentino, T., Pellegrini, V., Femia, G., D'Innocenzo, A., & Mancini, F. (2020). Compassion-focused group therapy for treatment-resistant OCD: Initial evaluation using a multiple baseline design. Front Psychol, 11, 594277. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.594277 [doi]. Retrieved from PM:33510677

Rayner, G., Beaumont, E., Mcandrew, S., & Irons, C. (2021). Exploring the impact of a compassion-focused therapy training course on healthcare educators. Health Educ J, 80(6), 712-723.

Sanai Zaker, B., Alaghband, S., & Falahati, S. & Hooman, A. (2000). Family and marriage scales (pp. 108-150). Tehran, Iran: Basat Publicatins.

Santor, D. A., Pringle, J. D., & Israeli, A. L. (2000). Enhancing and disrupting cooperative behavior in couples: effects of dependency and self-criticism following favorable and unfavorable performance feedback. Cognit Ther Res, 24(4), 379-397.

Shariati, M., Hamid, N., Hashemi Shaykhshabani, E., Beshlideh, K., & Marashi, A. (2017). The effectiveness of compassion focused therapy on depression and self criticism of female university students. Knowledge & Research in Applied Psychology, 17(1), 43-50.

Shojaei Vazhnany, F., Sohrabi, A., Azizi, A., Mohammadi Rayegani, M., & Nasiri Hanis, G. (2020). The Effectiveness of compassion-focused therapy on couple's marital intimacy and emotion regulation. Rooyesh-e-Ravanshenasi Journal, 8(12), 11-20.

Thompson, R., & Zuroff, D. C. (2004). The Levels of Self-Criticism Scale: Comparative self-criticism and internalized self-criticism. Pers Individ Differ, 36(2), 419-430.

Tirch, D. (2010). Mindfulness as a Context for the Cultivation of Compassion. Int J Cogn Ther, 3(2), 113-123.

Walker, A. J., & Thompson, L. (1983). Intimacy and intergenerational aid and contact among mothers and daughters. J Marriage Fam, 45(4), 841-849.

Wong, D. W., Hall, K. R., Justice, C. A., & Hernandez, L. W. (2015). Counseling individuals through the lifespan. New York, NY:SAGE Publications.

Yamaguchi, A., & Kim, M. S. (2013). Effects of Self-Criticism and Its Relationship with Depression across Cultures. Int J Psychol Stud, 5(1), 1.

Yarnell, L. M. & Neff, K. D. (2013). Self-compassion, interpersonal conflict resolutions, and well-being. Self Identity, 12(2), 146–159.

Yousefi, Z., & Karimnezhad, R. (2018). The Effectiveness of spouse treating based compassion training on improving family relations, marital conflicts, forgiveness and intimacy among deaf and semi-deaf couples. Journal of Woman and Family Studies, 6(2), 199-223.

Zahedi, M. (2019). The effect of compassion-based counseling on marital intimacy of conflicted couples. Journal of Social Behavior and Community Health, 3(2), 393-401.

Zhang, H., Watson-Singleton, N. N., Pollard, S. E., Pittman, D. M., Lamis, D. A., Fischer, N. L., et al. (2019). Self-criticism and depressive symptoms: Mediating role of self-compassion. Omega: J. Death Dying, 80(2), 202–223.




How to Cite

Aminzadeh, M. S. ., & Bolghan-Abadi, M. (2022). Effectiveness of the Compassion-Focused Therapy on Self-Criticism and Marital Intimacy among Couples . International Journal of Body, Mind and Culture, 9(4). Retrieved from https://ijbmc.org/index.php/ijbmc/article/view/395



Quantitative Study(ies)