CFT proposes that relating to the self and others with compassion is necessary for mental, and emotional health, and wellbeing. CFT therapy draws from multiple models, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), developmental, social, and evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, neurobiology, and Buddhism.
According to compassion focused therapy (CFT), humans developed three basic emotion regulation and affect systems: the threat and self-protection system, the drive and excitement system, and the contentment and social safeness system. Our ancestors had to learn how to survive by avoiding or overcoming threats, they were tasked with the acquisition of resources, and knew the benefits of being part of a social community. CFT theory suggests that these systems are still in force and impact our beliefs, emotions, and behaviour.
Treatment involves learning about how these systems interact with thought and behaviour, with the goal of achieving balance between the systems. One of the chief aims is to train the mind to help develop safeness, inner warmth, soothing, via compassion and self-compassion. CFT therapy is often integrated with other approaches like person centred therapy (PCT) or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
The main technique of CFT therapy is compassionate mind training (CMT). This involves being compassionate toward the self and others. Through specific training and exercises clients are guided to improve their ability to sympathise, tolerate distress, foster sensitivity, and nurture compassionate motivation toward a non-judging and non-criticising mindset.
This involves appreciation exercises and activities like making a list of likes, noticing and savouring positive experiences, and focusing on what one enjoys. Another technique used is Mindfulness, this teaches clients how to be present in a non-judgemental way.
Compassion-focused imagery exercises, or guided memories and fantasies offer a relational image that stimulates the soothing system via the mental and physiological systems. Our CFT therapists will assist you with understanding the origins and function of self-attacks, as well as the reasons why one might agree with the criticism, to better understand it.
Any blockages one experiences in relation to expressing compassion will also be explored in order to address and overcome them. Compassion focused therapy is often concluded within 6 and 15 sessions. We recommend 50-minute sessions on a weekly basis.
CFT therapy was originally established to help individuals work through issues of self-loathing, criticism, and shame, and therefore especially useful for those who are unable to express self-compassion.
Other issues that compassion focused therapy can work with include depression, anxiety, disordered eating, anger, self-harm, and psychosis. For others CFT may not be the most useful approach, however as it is often integrated alongside other approaches (for example, CBT, PCT, etc), it can complement.
We offer compassion focused therapy in Birmingham. Phinity Therapy also serves other cities and countries through our network of qualified therapists. Online therapy is also available, catering for those who cannot reach our clinic or have busy schedules.
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