Chronic pain is a major physical and mental health care problem, and is challenging to treat. In addition to pain, many patients feel bad about themselves and may experience guilt or shame. Self-compassion is an element of mindfulness-based interventions, and describes the skill of being kind and caring towards oneself. Thus, for patients with chronic pain, self-compassion could help cope with pain and lead to a healthier relation towards the self. To date, we don’t know if self-compassion skills can improve a patient’s everyday life and to what extent such skills can be learned. Further, we don’t know which areas in the brain are related to self-compassion skills. To close this gap, in this project patients with chronic low back pain will receive a two-week self-compassion training. During this time, patients will report daily their self-compassionate behavior when faced with pain and self-criticism. Patients will also complete neuroimaging tasks related to pain and self-compassion before and after the training. With this study, we will learn whether self-compassion skills can be trained and can help in the face of every-day critical situations. The study will also elucidate which brain regions might be related to such self-compassion skills.

Jacqueline Lutz, PhD

Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School


Jacqueline Lutz, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion (CMC), Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, MA. She received her PhD in psychology from the University … MORE