After a short introduction, we were asked to engage in an exercise in which we were to imagine a (hypothetical) shame related event, feeling or fantasy, to think about speak-ing about it, what would be our automatic feelings? How might we be affected by what others would think or feel or behave toward us? What would be our key fear? Then, how we would respond to our own thoughts and feelings about our self, what would be our key fear, what would I do? We discussed our coping behaviours, what we might do.

The Principles of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)

Researchers have found that high levels of shame and self-criticism were associated with a range of psychological issues that were difficult to help using traditional thera-pies.

CFT was developed by Paul Gilbert, he discovered that individuals with these issues often came from dysfunctional backgrounds, making it difficult for them to feel reas-sured or safe. CFT has been developed to increase the ability to create a sense of inner safety and self-reassurance as an antidote to self-criticism and shame.

Where other therapies work on reducing negative emotion, which is obviously helpful, recent developments in psychology have shown that promoting positive emotion has many benefits. CFT lends itself to building specific positive options that are linked to well-being.

The Reality Check: What is Compassion?

Compassion begins with the acknowledging the reality of our lives: that our lives are limited, we are destined to age and die. That we often suffer illnesses and tragedies. That our lives are influenced by the lottery of our genetic make-up and other chance events. By accepting that our life comprises change and loss. That our primary role is to maintain our survival, not to seek happiness.

CFT represents a detailed and complex addition to many existing therapies when used integratively, and relates directly to the human condition.

Further Reading:

  • Paul Gilbert: The Compassionate Mind
  • Mary Welford: Building your self-confidence using CFT
  • Russell Kolts: Managing your anger using CFT
  • Deborah Lee: Recovering from trauma using CFT
  • Chris Germer: The Mindful self-compassion
  • Kristen Neff: Self-Compassion
  • Alan Corbett