Compassion and wellbeing


Our research conducted within the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care around compassion and wellbeing is leading to changes in the way services are managed and delivered.

Our compassion and wellbeing researchers run well-attended international workshops and conferences. And the research centre is continuing to train an increasing number of clinicians in compassion-focused therapy (CFT) making it more available to services and patients. CFT is an intervention which is an effective treatment for a wide range of health disorders, including mental health illnesses, chronic illness and pain difficulties. It is available in over 27 NHS Trusts.

CFT and compassionate mind training (CMT) are practised in over 25 countries. The research team has international collaborators. Affiliate Compassion Research Centres have been set up in Australia, the USA, South America and Europe (Portugal and Italy). The team has over 300 publications on the theme of compassion. These are disseminated internationally through the Compassionate Mind Foundation (CMF), conferences and training workshops.

person in field of tall wild grasses salutes the sunset as birds fly overhead

Harnessing compassion for mental health and wellbeing

Our pioneering research on the power of compassion has led to effective therapies and interventions people suffer from mental health disorders.

Read about our research in actionRead about our research in action

CFT and CMT Projects

We have a number of projects looking at CFT and CMT:

CMT in Education

Compassion-based approaches within education settings potentially offer a means of generating greater psychological wellbeing for students, staff, parents and the wider community. However, to date, no rigorous evaluation of CMT within educational settings has been carried out. This international, multinational and multi-phased research project is led and co-ordinated by Professor Frances Maratos. It includes:

Please visit Compassion in the Classroom for more information.

CMT outdoors

This study is a first adaptation of CMT combined with nature-based approaches to wellbeing. Dr Kirsten McEwan and Dr Wendy Wood collaborated with The Forest Bathing Institute to compare CMT indoors and CMT outdoors combined with Forest Bathing. This research found both approaches to be effective in improving heart-rate variability, anxiety, rumination, nature connection and social connection.

Bipolar disorder

This study is a process evaluation of compassion-focused therapy for adults with bipolar disorder. It will co-produce a tailored version of CFT for adults with bipolar disorder. This will be the first research applying CFT to adults with bipolar disorder. We are collaborating with Dr Kirsten McEwan and Dr Kate Lucre to collect pilot data. This will assess the long-term profile of heart-rate variability (HRV) in bipolar patients and how interventions such as CFT impact on physiological measures like HRV.

Compassion during Covid-19

This is a longitudinal multinational study collaborating with compassion researchers in 21 Countries. Dr Kirsten McEwan has been monitoring the buffering effect of trait compassion on fear of Covid-19, mental health and post-traumatic growth in the general population and in healthcare workers.

CMT for business

Dr Yasu Kotera is studying how trait compassion is associated with workplace wellbeing and productivity. In addition, Jaskaran Basran has been researching compassion in businesses as part of a PhD. She is translating this data into compassion-based interventions to improve employee wellbeing, creativity and retention in large organisations.

CMT for athletes

Dr Shuge Zhang and Dr Kirsten McEwan are currently assessing how compassion in athletes contributes to prosociality (intent to benefit others), teamworking, motivation to train and mental wellbeing.

Active researchers

Our compassion and wellbeing researchers:

This team is supported by a group of external collaborators.