Self-compassion among psychotherapy clients is in the details of negative, not positive, emotions

Lior Galili-Weinstock*, Gal Lazarus, Dana Atzil-Slonim, Eran Bar-Kalifa, Eshkol Rafaeli, Tuvia Peri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Self-compassion involves the capacity to accept one’s negative emotional experiences with kindness and mindful awareness, acknowledging them as part of the human condition. The present work is premised on the idea that self-compassion may be tied to the degree to which individuals are able to distinguish among their negative emotional states. We hypothesized that psychotherapy clients high in self-compassion will be better at distinguishing among their negative (but not positive) emotional states. Clients (N = 136) from a community clinic completed the Self Compassion Scale pre-and post-treatment. Clients’ self-compassion levels as well as their emotional states were monitored before and after each psychotherapy session, respectively. Negative emotion differentiation was associated with both treatment and session level self-compassion; in contrast, positive emotion differentiation was not correlated with self-compassion levels. The implications of the findings will be discussed in light of contemporary accounts of self-compassion, affect dynamics, and affect regulation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)478-487
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Emotion
  • affect dynamics
  • emotion differentiation
  • psychotherapy
  • self-compassion


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