It brings together the benefits of mindfulness and self-compassion: Mindfulness teaches us to be present with difficult emotions, and self-compassion helps us to respond to these emotions with greater kindness and self-care. Through developmentally appropriate activities and meditations, teens learn specific tools which help them navigate the emotional ups and downs of this life stage with greater ease.
Two preliminary research studies on this program have now been published. In the first pilot study (Bluth, Gaylord, Campo, Mullarkey & Hobbs 2016 MFY), findings indicated decreases in depression, anxiety, stress, and negative affect after the 6-session class. Findings in the second pilot study (Bluth & Eisenlohr-Moul 2017) demonstrated decreases in stress, and increases in resilience, positive risk-taking (willingness to take on new challenges) and gratitude after the course was over. Further, a within-person analysis indicated that increases in mindfulness and self-compassion were associated with increases in depressive symptoms and stress; additionally, increases in mindfulness were associated with decreases in anxiety and increases in self-compassion were associated with increases in positive risk-taking and resilience.
In August 2016, Making Friends with Yourself was also awarded a grant from the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The study will explore the efficacy of Making Friends with Yourself as a depression-prevention program for adolescents with depression symptoms.
Making Friends With Yourself has been adapted from the adult Mindful Self-Compassion program (created by Kristin Neff, PhD and Christopher Germer, PhD) by Karen Bluth, PhD, Research Faculty, Program on Integrative Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Lorraine Hobbs, M.A., Director, Youth and Family Programs, University of California, San Diego Center for Mindfulness. For more information about self-compassion please see www.self-compassion.org. For information about the adult mindful self-compassion program: www.centerformsc.org.
One of the teens in our first pilot study summed up the emotional trials of adolescence in her statement “I feel like everyone is crying in high school!”
This understanding was clearly expressed by another teen in a statement she made after the compassionate friend meditation: “You know … I’m thinking that it’s ok if other kids don’t like me… because I like me!”