Self-Compassion, Stress, and Self-Care in Psychology Graduate Students

by Nicolas J Comeau

Institution: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Year: 2017
Keywords: Social psychology; Psychology; Personality psychology
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2154820
Full text PDF: http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=10261914


Psychology graduate trainees are exposed to a variety of stressors during their education, such as costly tuition, long hours of study, and demanding clinical work. There is a need for graduate institutions to help trainees build self-care skills; however, there is little agreement about the best approach for boosting these skills. The present study proposes that self-care training may benefit from helping students to build self-compassion (an attitude of warmth directed inward). To explore the possibility that self-compassion promotes student wellbeing, a sample of 122 mental health trainees was recruited from a large Midwestern training institution. Most participants were female (82.8%) and the mean age was 30.2 years. The sample was ethnically diverse. Over half identified as Caucasian (56.6%), with the reminder identifying as African American, Latino/a, Asian, Filipino, or American Indian or Alaska Native. All participants completed measures of three variables: self-compassion, self-care behavior, and perceived stress. The results showed that students with greater levels of self-compassion experience significantly lower levels of perceived stress (r = -.57, p < .001) and engaged in significantly more self-care behavior (r = .64, p < .001). Furthermore, self-care behavior partially mediated the effect of self-compassion on perceived stress, and this partial mediation effect was statistically significant (z = -3.42, p < .001). These findings indicate that greater self-compassion is associated with more self-care behavior, which, in turn, is associated with reduced stress levels. Therefore, graduate institutions that wish to promote student wellbeing can benefit from teaching students ways to build self-compassion.