Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)

Compassion focused therapy (CFT) is a system of therapy developed by Paul Gilbert that uses techniques from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) informed by biological and evolutionary aspects. One of its key aspects is to use compassionate mind training to help people develop and work with experiences of inner warmth, safeness and soothing, using compassion

Compassion involves empathy and being able to understand one’s own and other people’s feelings, it focuses on being caring, accepting, kindly tolerant of distress in self and others. Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

The main theory behind CFT is that Humans have evolved with at least three types of emotion regulation system: the threat (protection) system, the drive (resource-seeking) system, and the soothing system. CFT emphasizes the links between thoughts and feelings and these three emotion regulation systems. Through the use of techniques such as compassionate mind training and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), clients can learn to manage each system more effectively and respond more appropriately to situations. There are an increasing number of research papers that demonstrate the importance of compassion as a way of being with ourselves.

Compassion focused therapy is especially appropriate for people who have high levels of shame and self-criticism and who experience difficulty in feeling warmth toward, and being kind to, themselves or others. CFT can help such people learn to feel more safeness and warmth in their interactions with others and themselves.