Everybody should learn to love themselves, prisoners too!

When thinking about how to prevent reoffending in prisoners, teaching them in self-compassion might not be the first idea one might come up with. However, this is exactly what a study conducted by the Ardakan University in Iran did. For 8 weeks prisoners arrested for drug-related crimes were given a self-compassion intervention in which they received group therapy focused on enhancing self-compassion. In these sessions the inmates for example learned about self-care against shame and guilt, practiced mindfulness, completed exercises aimed at accepting and dealing with emotions and many more.

Directly after the intervention, as well as 2 months later, the group who received the self-compassion intervention showed significantly decreased criminal thinking than before the intervention compared to a control group on the psychological inventory of criminal thinking styles (PICTS) which tests for attitudes, beliefs, and rationalizations offenders typically hold to rationalize and justify their criminal behavior. Since criminal thinking is seen as a prerequisite for criminal behavior, it is of high importance to address these thinking errors in rehabilitation programs for prisoners. This gives an indication that reducing criminal thinking and thus also decreasing the likelihood for reoffending can indeed be achieved by enhancing prisoners self-compassion. 

Next to clinical practice this is thus another area in which self-compassion is of high relevance and followingly can have consequences on a societal level. The message here remains: everybody should learn to love and accept themselves!


Rezapour-Mirsaleh, Y., Shafizadeh, R., Shomali, M., & Sedaghat, R. (2020). Effectiveness of Self-Compassion Intervention on Criminal Thinking in Male Prisoners. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 0306624X20936192.

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