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Self-Compassion Scale

Adapted for Berkshire School use by Cait Ward from: 

Neff, K. D. (2003). Development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2, 223-250.


How do I typically act towards myself in difficult times

Please read each statement carefully before answering. For each item, indicate how often you behave in the stated manner, using the following 1-5 scale. Please answer according to what really reflects your experience rather than what you think your experience should be.



______      (1)  I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies.
______      (2)  When I’m feeling down I tend to obsess and fixate on everything that’s wrong.
______      (3)  When things are going badly for me, I see the difficulties as part of life that everyone goes through.
______      (4)  When I think about my inadequacies, it tends to make me feel more separate and cut off from the rest of the world.
______      (5)  I try to be loving towards myself when I’m feeling emotional pain.
______      (6)  When I fail at something important to me I become consumed by feelings of inadequacy.
______      (7)  When I'm down, I remind myself that there are lots of other people in the world feeling like I am.
______      (8)  When times are really difficult, I tend to be tough on myself.
______      (9)  When something upsets me I try to keep my emotions in balance.
______      (10)  When I feel inadequate in some way, I try to remind myself that feelings of inadequacy are shared by most people.
______      (11)  I’m intolerant and impatient towards those aspects of my personality I don't like.
______      (12)  When I’m going through a very hard time, I give myself the caring and tenderness I need.
______      (13)  When I’m feeling down, I tend to feel like most other people are probably happier than I am.
______      (14)  When something painful happens I try to take a balanced view of the situation.
______      (15)  I try to see my failings as part of the human condition
______      (16)  When I see aspects of myself that I don’t like, I get down on myself.
______      (17)  When I fail at something important to me I try to keep things in perspective.
______      (18)  When I’m really struggling, I tend to feel like other people must be having an easier time of it.
______      (19)  I’m kind to myself when I’m experiencing suffering.
______      (20)  When something upsets me I get carried away with my feelings.
______      (21)  I can be a bit cold-hearted towards myself when I'm experiencing suffering.
______      (22)  When I'm feeling down I try to approach my feelings with curiosity and openness.
______      (23)  I’m tolerant of my own flaws and inadequacies.
______      (24)  When something painful happens I tend to blow the incident out of proportion.
______      (25)  When I fail at something that's important to me, I tend to feel alone in my failure.
______      (26)  I try to be understanding and patient towards those aspects of my personality I don't like.


Scoring Key

Self-Kindness Items: 5, 12, 19, 23, 26

Common Humanity Items: 3, 7, 10, 15

Mindfulness Items: 9, 14, 17, 22


Reverse Scored*

*To reverse score items (1=5, 2=4, 3=3, 4=2, 5=1).

Self-Judgment Items: 1, 8, 11, 16, 21

Isolation Items: 4, 13, 18, 25

Over-identification Items: 2, 6, 20, 24


To compute a total self-compassion score, first reverse score the negative subscale items - self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification. Then take the mean of each subscale, and compute a total mean (the average of the six subscale means).


When examining subscale scores, higher scores on the self-judgment, isolation and over-identification scale indicate less self-compassion before reverse-coding, and more self-compassion after reverse coding. You can choose to report subscale scores with or without reverse-coding, but these three negative subscales must be reverse coded before calculating a total self-compassion score.


Norms and Score Significance

There are no clinical norms or scores which indicate that an individual is high or low in self compassion. Rather, SCS scores are mainly used in a comparative manner to examine outcomes for people scoring higher or lower in self-compassion.


As an ad hoc rubric, however, you can consider scores 1.0-2.49 to be low, between 2.5-3.5 to be moderate, and 3.51-5.0 to be high. Scores should not be used as a comparative tool with others, but rather, an assessment for individuals to identify where they can be more compassionate with themselves in the face of adversity.

Reflection Questions

  1. Did anything surprise you while you were considering the self-compassion scales?

  2. When you consider your self-assessment, what specific strengths can you highlight?

  3. In what areas can you work towards being more compassionate with yourself in the face of adversity?

  4. How might you be able to use this tool in the future?

  5. Do you have any questions about the Self-Compassion Scale?

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