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Making Friends With Yourself (MFY) is an empirically-supported 8-week program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion in teens. MFY teaches core principles and practices that enable teens to respond to the challenges of these critical years with kindness and self-compassion.

Karen Bluth leading students
Karen Bluth, Ph.D., leads students in Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Teens

Adolescence is a time of change and growth. It is the period of life reserved for rebellion and self-discovery, but as the demands in life increase for teens, this time is often fraught with confusion, anxiety or depression. For many teens these challenges lead to disconnection and isolation.

In this 8-week long course which meets weekly for 1.75 hours, teens engage in developmentally appropriate activities and carefully crafted practices and meditations, which provide them with the opportunity to learn how to navigate the emotional ups and downs of life with greater ease. Backed by research, findings indicate increases in emotional well-being and greater resilience after taking the course.
Following in the footsteps of the adult MSC program, MFY is rooted in the three key components of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity and mindful, balanced awareness. These elements serve to open the hearts of teens to their own suffering, so they can learn to give themselves what they truly need, recognize that they are not alone in their suffering, and encourage an open-minded acceptance of the struggle they are facing.

This curriculum was adapted from the adult Mindful Self-Compassion created by Drs. Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer, and has been endorsed by the founders.

“At long last, a self-compassion training for teens! This delightful, innovative program captures the essence of self-compassion for an age group that needs it the most. Wholeheartedly recommended!” – Christopher Germer, Ph.D.

In the unedited video below, self-compassion teacher Laura Prochnow Phillips talks with teen Syd West about her experience taking our teen self-compassion class and, in her words, how it has changed her outlook on life. If you or your teen has questions about what this class is like for teens, this is a great video to watch!

Dr. Elizabeth Donovan, professor at Simmons College, interviews Dr. Karen Bluth about her research on self-compassion and teens, how she became interested in self-compassion, and her own mindfulness and self-compassion practice.


Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Teens is a research-based class that empowers teens by teaching them specific skills of mindfulness and self-compassion. These guided practices and exercises can be implemented in the moment that they begin to experience distress, so that stress is reduced, and over time, anxiety and depression lessen.

Based on the internationally acclaimed adult Mindful Self-Compassion program by Chris Germer and Kristin Neff, this program, adapted for teens, includes:

  1. An informal brief art activity in each class
  2. A music meditation
  3. Mindful movement exercises
  4. A guided practice that helps teens to see that they have inner wisdom and compassion that can turn to any time
  5. Short videos
  6. Several games
  7. An exercise to learn how to motivate yourself with self-compassion rather than self-criticism
  8. Mindful eating exercise
  9. And many more!

Hear what other teens have to say about this program which was sponsored by The Benji Project in Port Townsend, Washington:

Articles about the program:

 

Listen to Karen Bluth give a talk about the research on Making Friends with Yourself at the Mindfulness in Education Network conference.

Bluth is the author of The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness and Compassion Skills to Overcome Self-Criticism and Embrace Who You Are.

Learn about Bluth’s research on self-compassion and teens.

FAQs for teens only:

  1. What is this program about?It’s about learning ways to not be so hard on yourself, and still be motivated and get things done.
  2. What actually happens in the class?We talk about what mindfulness and self-compassion are, we watch short videos, play a few games, learn how to do a music meditation, do a little bit of mindful art at the beginning of each class, and learn ways to de-stress in the moment when we start feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Do I have to participate in everything?No. You never have to participate in anything that you don’t want to.
  4. Am I going to have to talk about my feelings? What if I don’t want to?You never have to talk about anything that you’re not comfortable discussing. FIRST AND FOREMOST, this program is about being kind to yourself. So, if it doesn’t feel like you’re doing something kind for yourself, you don’t have to do it.
  5. I think you’re just saying that. I think once I get there, you’re going to find ways to make me participate. Nope! We’re serious. This isn’t school 😊.
  6. How do you know that this program will help me not stress as much?Through a number of research studies, we know that when teens are kinder to themselves, they have less depression, anxiety, and stress. So in this program, we “build” the self-compassion muscle. Just like lifting weights builds arm muscles, learning self-compassion builds resilience de-stress muscles.
  7. My parent/therapist/coach/teacher thinks I should take this class but I don’t trust them. They’re an adult and they think they know me but they don’t really. Why should I take it?Well, certainly don’t take it to make them happy! Take it to make you happy, because lots of teens have talked about how it has really helped them, and they don’t feel as stressed as they used to. Watch the Benji Project video to see what teens say about the program!
  8. Who teaches this class?Karen Bluth (one of the developers of the program), Laura Prochnow Phillips, and Macy Ratliff teach it. You will get 2 of the 3 of us as instructors in your class. Read about us here.
  9. I have a ton of questions about this program that aren’t listed here. Why aren’t they?We’re just building this website. Fill out our Contact Us form or send questions to me, Karen Bluth, at bluth@med.unc.edu and I will answer them directly to you and maybe post them here (because other teens may have similar questions). If you don’t want me to post your question, just let me know.