Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)

Most of us have the ability to feel and show compassion to others, it is part of what makes us human.  However, many of us have difficulty showing and feeling compassion towards ourselves.

We often operate a double standard, judging ourselves much more harshly than others in a similar position.

Developed by Professor Paul Gilbert at Derby University as a method of helping people with shame-based problems, CFT combines techniques from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with modern neuroscience, evolutionary and social psychology and concepts from ancient Buddhist philosophy.

heart_handsCFT is a particularly appropriate therapy option for people with problematic patterns of cognition and emotion caused by anger, anxiety, shame and self-criticism which can lead to relationship and other difficulties.   The root of the problem often lies in a history of abuse, bullying, neglect or lack of affection.  CFT uses compassionate mind training, teaching the skills and attributes of compassion, to help the individual feel safe and secure in their relationships with themselves and others.

With Compassionate Mind Training, we try to help people see where their critical thoughts come from, examine whether these are justified and help people be less critical about themselves.  As the origins of unjustified self-criticism may stem from early childhood experiences, they are often lodged in the part of the brain that deals mainly with emotional feelings.  We work with this part of the brain as well as the logical, thinking part to work on information that is stored as physical and emotional feelings as well as thoughts.

Changing the way the brain works can take some time, but will be very worthwhile.  CFT uses techniques such as Mindfulness, meditation and imagery techniques to help encourage new connections and circuits between the different parts of the brain responsible for different impulses and sensations.

At The Oxford Development Centre our therapists will tailor CFT to each client’s specific needs and requirements and, based on their years of therapeutic experience, often combine this approach with other therapeutic modalities such as aspects of Schema Therapy, CBT, EMDR and other body-oriented approaches to achieve the best results.

A really good way for you to learn more about living a compassion-focused  way of life would be to join our small group workshops called Circles of Compassion. Please contact us if you are interested in this.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver©