As self-criticism is considered to be the major underlying factor of all sorts of psychopathology, it is meaningful to explore the differences between how people deal with their self-criticism based on their level of self-criticism. The aim of this study was to categorise descriptions and investigate differences between 5 high and 5 low self-critical participants in their self-critical, self-protective and self-compassionate imageries. The total sample consisted of 10 university students, who were selected from a larger sample of 88 participants based on their extreme score from The Forms of Self-Criticising/Attacking and Self-Reassuring Scale. For analysis, we exploited Consensual Qualitative Research with two assessors and one auditor. The compassionate imagery was used to evoke the inner critic, protector and compassionate voice. The results showed differences in the imageries based on the level of self-criticism. Both high and low self-critics displayed difficulties in overcoming their self-criticism. Contrary to high self-critics, low self-critics showed more constructive and positive strategies for dealing with their self-criticism. Our study presented several different patterns between high and low self-critical participants in self-critical, self-compassionate, and self-protective imagery which could be used for diagnostic purposes in the future.


Consensual Qualitative Research, Guided Imagery, Self-Compassion, Self-Criticism; Self-Protection

Author Bio(s)

Júlia Halamová is associate professor at Comenius University. She has also her own private psychotherapy practice. Jana Koróniová and Martina Baránková were her postgraduate students. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Júlia Halamová at julia.halamova@gmail.com.


Acknowledgements: Compliance with Ethical Standards Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest: The authors declare that they have no potential conflicts of interests. Funding: Writing this work was supported by the Vedecká grantová agentúra VEGA under Grant 1/0578/15. Ethical approval: All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Author Contributions: JH and JK designed research. JK collected data. JK and MB did qualitative analysis and JH provided audit of the qualitative analysis. All authors wrote the first draft of the article, interpreted the results, revised the manuscript and read and approved the final manuscript.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.