Mounting research has supported the beneficial effects of compassion-based interventions for improving psychosocial and physiological well-being and mental health. Teachers present a high risk of professional stress, which negatively impacts their mental health and professional performance. It is crucial to make compassion cultivation a focus in educational settings, supporting teachers in coping with the school context’s challenges, and promoting their mental well-being. This study aims to test the feasibility of the Compassionate Mind Training programme for Teachers (CMT-T), as well as to preliminary explore possible mechanisms of change.
Participants were 31 teachers from one public school in the centre region of Portugal, who underwent the CMT-T, a six-module Compassionate Mind Training group intervention for teachers. Feasibility was assessed in six domains (acceptability, implementation, practicality, adaptation, integration, and preliminary effectiveness), using self-reports, overall programme assessment, attrition, attendance, and home practice. Using a pre-post within-subject design, changes were assessed in self-reported psychological distress, burnout, well-being, compassion, and self-criticism. Mediation analysis for repeated measures designs was used to explore mechanisms of change.
The CMT-T was feasible in all the six domains. Participants revealed significant decreases in depression, stress, and fears of compassion to others, as well as significant increases in compassion to others, self-compassion, and compassion to others’ motivations and actions after the CMT-T intervention. When self-criticism was controlled, decreases in burnout and increases in satisfaction with professional life, and self-compassion, were also found. Fears of compassion for others mediated the impact of CMT-T on teachers’ burnout, and self-compassion mediated the intervention effect on psychological well-being.
This pilot study provides evidence that CMT-T is feasible and may be effective in promoting teachers’ compassionate motivations, attributes, and actions towards others and themselves and improving their mental health and well-being. These promising findings warrant further investigation within a randomized controlled trial.