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November 2012Vol. 13, No. 10Cognitively Based Compassion Training

Children and youth who experience early life adversary (ELA) or traumatic events such as sexual abuse or parental neglect are at a higher risk for medical and psychiatric illness as adults. A new study examines the ability of youth in foster care to reduce feelings of anxiety and increase feelings of hopefulness through Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT). The study explores whether CBCT reduces the C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker that increases health risks, in youth in foster care who experienced ELA.

Researchers from Emory University collaborated with the Georgia Department of Human Services and the Division of Family and Child Services. Seventy-one adolescents (40 male and 31 female) aged 13–19 participated in the study, all of whom were from the Atlanta, GA, area and were in out-of-home care at the time of the study. Over the course of 6 weeks, in a randomized trial, participants were assigned to either a CBCT group or a wait-list control group. In the CBCT group, participants attended 1-hour classes twice a week for 6 weeks. During these sessions, adolescents participated in, among other things, CBCT meditation therapy. Youth in both groups were assessed for levels of anxiety and hopefulness before and after the CBCT program. The levels of C-reactive protein also were measured in regular saliva samples provided by all study participants.

While there was no difference in salivary CRP among the two groups, youth in the CBCT meditation group experienced reduced CRP. The authors suggest that continued research is necessary to examine possible long-term effects of CBCT.

Engagement With Cognitively-Based Compassion Training is Association With Reduced Salivary C-Reactive Protein From Before to After Training in Foster Care Program Adolescents is available for purchase on the ScienceDirect website:

In July, Rick Nauert, Ph.D., Senior News Editor for PsychCentral, spoke with the article's authors for a blog post on the study and subsequent journal articles. Read the blog post here: