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26-11-2020 | REVIEW | Uitgave 4/2021

Mindfulness 4/2021

A Scoping Review of Self-compassion in Qualitative Studies About Children’s Experiences of Parental Mental Illness

Tijdschrift:
Mindfulness > Uitgave 4/2021
Auteurs:
Addy J. Dunkley-Smith, Jade A. Sheen, Mathew Ling, Andrea E. Reupert
Belangrijke opmerkingen

Supplementary Information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-020-01560-x.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Abstract

Objectives

Children of parents with mental illness have higher rates of social and emotional difficulties compared to their peers. One factor associated with lower psychological distress and higher well-being is self-compassion. However, the concept of self-compassion has not been explored in the population of children of parents with mental illness. Self-compassion is an attitude toward oneself. It involves non-judgemental openness to one’s own suffering, accompanied by a sense of common humanity and a motivation to alleviate one’s own suffering with kindness. This review scoped qualitative literature regarding children and adult children of parents with mental illness concerning their experiences related to self-compassion.

Methods

This review employed a scoping method to examine the presence of self-compassion in the qualitative literature pertaining to children of parents with mental illness. Peer-reviewed articles published in English after 1990 were eligible. Only those reporting children’s experiences which contained concepts of self-compassion were included. Directed content analysis was employed to characterise self-compassion.

Results

Twenty-seven studies were identified, from 10 countries involving 374 children (6–78 years old, approximately 32% male, 68% female). Although examples of self-compassion were described (kind self-talk, acknowledging difficult emotions and sharing experiences in peer support groups), participants typically described experiences which directly opposed self-compassion. Children of all ages reported being isolated by their experience, ignoring their emotions and engaging in self-judgement and self-blame.

Conclusions

Results indicate the presence of barriers and facilitators of self-compassion for children of parents with mental illness. Implications for clinical practice and suggestions for future research are presented.

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