Compassion Focused Therapy

Compassion Focused Therapy

Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) was developed to help people who have difficulties related to shame, self-criticism or self-loathing, who are frequnently not easily helped by other approaches. It is an integrative therapy drawing together scientific understanding of how our minds work: evolution, neuroscience, attachment and  emotional functioning. It was developed by Prof Paul Gilbert and is influenced by scientific reasearch as well as Buddhist philosophy.

Who is Compassion-focused therapy suitable for?

The CFT approach understands dificulties beyond diagnostic categories (it is ‘transdiagnostic’) and is useful when working with a range of conditions such as anxiety, depression and trauma. It can help anyone who struggles with the following issues: 

  • deep feelings of shame
  • an unrelenting inner critic
  • a history of emotional or physical abuse including neglect and bullying
  • an inability to feel kind towards themselves
  • difficulty believing the world is a safe place
  • anxiety and possibly panic attacks due to feeling life is threatening
  • find it hard to trust others

Symptomatically, above issues can manifest in difficulties with anger, self-esteem, depression, anxiety or eating-related difficulties.

How does a therapist apply CFT?

A therapist working from CFT approach firstly creates a safe, kind and accepting therapeutic relationship. In CFT we then pay particular attention to develop a better view of difficulties as understandable human struggles. From that place we work on developing more self-kindness, warmth, safeness and soothing, wisdom and strength.

People suffering from self-criticism or shame can feel that being kinder with themselves could be threatening or rob them of a source of motivation. So, it may be necessary to overcome certain barriers to compassion and slowly develop emotional resources and distress tolerance in order to feel safe. We can all develop abilities to feel soothed and to have more self-compassion.