SELF-COMPASSION AS A MEDIATOR OF THE LINK BETWEEN MALADAPTIVE PERFECTIONISM AND DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS AND EATING CONCERNS

Open Access
Author:
Chun-Kennedy, Caitlin Lorraine
Graduate Program:
Counseling Psychology
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
June 06, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Kathleen Bieschke, Dissertation Advisor
  • Kathleen Bieschke, Committee Chair
  • Jeffrey Hayes, Committee Member
  • Benjamin D Locke, Committee Member
  • Stephanie A Shields, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • self-compassion
  • self-disparagement
  • self-care
  • maladaptive perfectionism
  • depression
  • eating concerns
  • college student mental health
  • CCMH
Abstract:
College student mental health has recently received increased attention in higher education and the media. College and university counseling centers are faced with the challenge of providing psychological treatment for students facing a variety of mental health concerns. In order to improve treatment for college students, it could be helpful to identify therapeutic approaches that may facilitate change and improve outcomes. Two psychological problems for which college students seek treatment are depression and eating concerns, and symptoms of these can lead to risky behaviors such as suicide attempts in clients with depression and physical health problems associated with eating disorders. Previous research has shown that maladaptive perfectionism is associated with depression and eating disorders, and can precede and/or exacerbate symptoms. The concept of self-compassion involves approaching failure with kindness, viewing failure as part of the human experience, and practicing mindfulness. Although research has demonstrated the links between maladaptive perfectionism, self-compassion, depression, and eating disorders, less is known about potential mediators within these relationships. The current study examined self-compassion as a mediator of the link between maladaptive perfectionism and both depressive symptoms and eating concerns in a sample of treatment-seeking college students. In line with a recent study that supported a two-factor model of self-compassion, which identified self-disparagement and self-care as distinct factors, the mediation models in the current study were tested for both factors. Results supported all of the mediation models and demonstrated that self-disparagement in particular explained a significant amount of the variance in depression. While self-disparagement explained a significant amount of the variance in eating concerns, self-disparagement explained more of the variance in depression than in eating concerns. Examining the relative influence of each variable, results demonstrated that maladaptive perfectionism explained the most variance in outcome (i.e., depression and eating concerns), followed by self-compassion (i.e., self-disparagement and self-care), and then the interaction of self-compassion and gender. Additionally, the mediation models were also significant for the generalized anxiety, social anxiety, academic, family, and hostility subscales, but not for substance use. Differences among the three types of perfectionists indicated that adaptive perfectionists reported the highest levels of self-compassion, maladaptive perfectionists reported the lowest levels of self-compassion, and self-compassion in non-perfectionists fell in between.