Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Cwinn, Eli

2nd Supervisor

Crooks, Claire



The current study’s goal is to expand the adolescent compassion focused therapy (CFT) literature by exploring participant experiences of a novel CFT protocol which was delivered in an online group therapy format. This study is a mixed methods approach using surveys, open-ended questionnaires, and interviews to explore participants’ experience and expression of feelings of inadequacy (FOI) and self-compassion. Thematic analysis findings revealed that participants struggled primarily with FOI relating to evaluative contexts such as school and sports and that these FOI also carried with them implications of self-worth and perfectionism. Through participating in the program, participants were able to de-shame their struggles by experiencing and understanding the struggle of their fellow peers, acquired assertiveness skills to set healthy boundaries and express needs adaptively and learned how to effectuate compassionate self-support in moments of difficulty and suffering.

Summary for Lay Audience

Self-criticism is a detrimental aspect of human psychology that has been implicated in causing and maintaining anxiety and depression. Self-criticism is made up of two parts, self-hatred and feelings of inadequacy (FOI), the focus of this study. FOI have implications for goal setting, self-worth and perfectionism. Compassion focused therapy (CFT) is a treatment style designed to help clients overcome their self-criticism by shifting into a caregiving and care-receiving motive-oriented state of mind. This translates to an individual learning to meet their emotional and psychological needs in an adaptive manner; whether that is through self-soothing, self-encouragement or setting appropriate and attainable standards for one’s behaviour and the manner in which the individual relates to themself. In doing so, clients learn to interrupt corrosive cycles of self-attack and move towards self-support and compassionate self-correction. The current study examined an online group CFT program for adolescents to better understand adolescents’ experience of FOI and the development of compassion. Participants’ reported FOI were primarily concerned with evaluative contexts such as school and sports and were felt as harsh and berating voices or as their own self-chastising. Adolescents reported several gains as a result of participating in the program such as learning skills of assertiveness, normalizing and de-stigmatizing their mental health struggles and helping them to effectuate self-support in times of need and struggle.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License