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Kind minds: using the ‘compassionate kitbag’ in a compassion focused therapy group for adults with intellectual disabilities

Andy Busfield (HCRG Care Group, Bath, UK)
Charlotte Peters (University of Bath, Bath, UK)
Karen McKenzie (HCRG Care Group, Bath, UK)

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Article publication date: 25 December 2023

Issue publication date: 4 March 2024




This paper aims to describe and evaluate the impact of a compassion-focused therapy (CFT) group for adults with intellectual disabilities (ID).


People with ID are commonly subjected to stigmatising experiences that can contribute to feelings of shame. CFT targets shame and self-criticism by helping people to cultivate self-compassion. There is evidence to suggest that CFT can be meaningfully adapted for people with ID. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected using a mixed-methods design, aiming to gain a rich evaluation of the CFT group. Eight adults with ID were referred by their local community psychology team. An 11-week group protocol was based on materials from previous research. The protocol included the development of a “compassion box”, aiming to make CFT concepts more concrete and tangible. Questionnaires measuring psychological distress, self-compassion and negative social comparisons were completed pre- and post-group. Feedback from participants and carers were collated and facilitators’ observations were recorded.


Questionnaire findings were mixed, and some participants found the measures difficult to understand. Participants’ qualitative feedback and facilitators’ observations suggested that the group created feelings of safety and connectedness whilst facilitating engagement and action with shame and self-criticism. Several participants highlighted the usefulness of the ‘”compassion box”, although some barriers were noted.


This paper provides a rich description of how group CFT can be adapted to meet the needs of adults with ID and is the first study of its kind, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, to evaluate the incorporation of the “compassion box”.



The authors express our gratitude to Dr Neil Clapton for sharing his knowledge, expertise and guidance.


Busfield, A., Peters, C. and McKenzie, K. (2024), "Kind minds: using the ‘compassionate kitbag’ in a compassion focused therapy group for adults with intellectual disabilities", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 25-37.



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