Enhancing self-compassion in individuals with visible skin conditions: randomised pilot of the ‘My Changed Body’self-compassion writing intervention

Kerry A. Sherman, Tegan Roper, Christopher Jon Kilby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Abnormalities in the appearance of skin are commonly associated with compromised self-body perceptions, arising from physical manifestations of the skin condition that deviate from the individual's idealised body image. These body image concerns are associated with a range of psychological issues including anxiety, depression, fear of negative evaluation, and suicidal ideation. Unfortunately, stigma and embarrassment associated with these body image concerns mean that these issues are rarely discussed in clinical medical consultations. There is thus a need for highly accessible and acceptable interventions to address skin-related body image concerns. We have previously demonstrated that a web-based self-compassion focused therapeutic writing approach, the ‘My Changed Body’ intervention, is efficacious in addressing body image concerns of women in the breast cancer context. The aim of this experimental pilot study was to investigate the feasibility of applying the My Changed Body intervention to address visible skin-related body image concerns.

Methods: Participants (N = 50) with a range of visible skin conditions provided online informed consent, then completed measures of demographic and medical history, body image disturbance, self-compassion and positive and negative affect. They were then randomly allocated either to an active control expressive writing condition (n = 25) or to the My Changed Body writing condition (n = 25). Participants were blind to their condition allocation. Immediately after completing their allocated writing exercise, participants completed self-compassion and affect measures.

Results: Controlling for pre-writing body image disturbance, repeated measures ANCOVAs with fixed effects revealed that self-compassion and negative affect significantly improved after the My Changed Body writing exercise, compared to the control condition. There was no between groups difference at follow-up in positive affect.

Conclusions: This study suggests that the My Changed Body writing intervention may provide benefit to individuals with visible skin conditions. A randomised controlled trial is needed to further confirm these results.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-77
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • self-compassion
  • therapeutic writing
  • skin condition
  • affect
  • My Changed Body
  • Self-compassion


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