Current Research

Below is an outline of current research projects the Center for Compassion Studies is involved with 

1. Applying Cognitively-Based Compassion Training with Transgender Youth and Their Parents: A Pilot Study

Applying Cognitively-Based Compassion Training with Transgender Youth and Their Parents: A Pilot Study

This research is led by Drs. Russell Toomey and Michele Walsh (both of the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences), in collaboration with Drs. Madeleine DeBlois (SFCS) and Tad Pace (College of Nursing and Department of Psychiatry) and Maura Shramko (SFCS).


Transgender and gender creative youth experience heightened risk for mental health problems related to several unique interpersonal, medical, and contextual challenges that they face in their daily lives. The parents of trans youth also experience stressors related to isolation, stigma, and ambiguity. This project examined the feasibility and effectiveness of  Cognitively-Based Compassion Training TM with trans youth and their families (n = 5 families). There were two main aims.

Aim 1. Assess the feasibility and acceptability of an innovative family-focused compassion-based meditation intervention for trans youth and their families.  
Aim 2. Examine changes in theoretically-specified family- and youth-related outcomes (e.g., mental health, coping, stress) immediately following the intervention and at three-months post-intervention.


This study utilized a pre-post intervention design without a control group. Participants were recruited from a support group for parents of trans youth and pediatricians serving trans youth. Several data collection methods were used, including pre-, mid-, and post-intervention self-report surveys, daily surveys, saliva collection, weekly-post intervention surveys, and focus groups.


We hypothesized that the intervention has the potential to improve parent-adolescent relationships, increase the use of effective coping strategies among trans youth and their parents, and contribute to less bodily inflammation and better mental health for trans teens and their parents.