Research MBCL

There has been a lot of research into the beneficial effects of mindfulness and self-compassion in general. Also specific (self-)compassion training programmes are increasingly studied. The MBCL programme itself has shown beneficial effects in a growing number of studies – inside and outside the mental health services, on location and online, in controlled and uncontrolled, quantitative and qualitative research.

Three Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT’s) have now been published, studying:

  • MBCL after MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy) among people with recurrent depression at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
  • An MBCL online programme among people with high levels of self-criticism at the University of Bern, Switzerland.
  • A brief online intervention with MBCL exercises among students at the University of Bratislava, Slovakia.

In summary, research up to date confirms that after an MBCL intervention:

  • mindfulness, self-compassion, quality of life and resilience increase and
  • depression, self-criticism, anxiety, and stress levels decrease.


Research on MBCL is growing with promising results in clinical and non-clinical populations, with face-to-face and online interventions, in uncontrolled and controlled, quantitative and qualitative studies. Click below to view the abstract or full text of the articles.

Bartels-Velthuis, A. A., Schroevers, M. J., Ploeg, K. van der, Koster, F., Fleer, J., & Brink, E. van den. (2016). A Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living training in a heterogeneous sample of psychiatric outpatients: a feasibility study. Mindfulness, 7, 809–818. Click here

Krieger, T., Reber, F., Von Glutz, B., Urech, A., Moser, C.T., Schulz, A., & Berger, T. (2019). An Internet-Based Compassion-Focused Intervention for Increased Self-Criticism: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Behavior Therapy 50, 430–445. Click here.

Krieger, T., Martig, D.S., Brink, E. van den, & Berger, T. (2016). Working on self-compassion online: A proof of concept and feasibility study. Internet Interventions, 6, 64–70. Click here

Ondrejková, N., Halamová, J. & Strnádelová, B. (2020). Effect of the intervention mindfulness based compassionate living on the level of self-criticism and self-compassion. Current Psychology (2020)Click here

Schuling, R., Huijbers, M.J., van Ravesteijn, H., Kuyken, W. & Speckens, A. E. M. (2021). Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL): a Qualitative Study into the Added Value of Compassion in Recurrent Depression. Mindfulness (2021)Click here

Schuling, R., Huijbers, M. J., Van Ravesteijn, H., Donders, R., Cillessen, L., Kuyken, W. & Speckens, A. E. M. (2020). Recovery from recurrent depression: Randomized controlled trial of the efficacy of mindfulness-based compassionate living compared with treatment-as-usual on depressive symptoms and its consolidation at longer term follow-up. Journal of Affective Disorders, 273, 265-273. Click here

Schuling, R., Huijbers, M., Jansen, H., Metzemaekers, R., Brink, E. van den, Koster, F., Ravesteijn, H. van, & Speckens, A. (2018). The co-creation and feasibility of a compassion training as a follow-up to mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in patients with recurrent depression. Mindfulness, 9(2), 412-422. Click here

Schuling, R., Huijbers, M. J., van Ravesteijn, H., Donders, R., Kuyken, W., & Speckens, A. E. M. (2016). A parallel-group, randomized controlled trial into the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL) compared to treatment-as-usual in recurrent depression: Trial design and protocol. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 50, 77-83. Click here

For access to the full version of Rhoda Schuling’s doctoral thesis on MBCL for recurrent depression

Schuling, R. (2020). Compassion in depression – Mindfulness-based compassionate living for recurrent depression. Doctoral thesis Radboud University, Nimwegen. Click here

Research Interpersonal Mindfulness Program (IMP)

Below a first research paper on the Interpersonal Mindfulness Program (IMP) can be found – Erik van den Brink and Frits Koster were involved as IMP- teachers.

Bartels-Velthuis, A.A., Van den Brink, E., Koster, F., & Hoenders. H.J.R. (published online 26 August 2020). The Interpersonal Mindfulness Program for Health Care Professionals: a Feasibility Study. Mindfulness. See