Compassion Focused Therapy

Greetings, everyone.

I’ve been wanting to introduce you to Compassion Focused Therapy (C.F.T.) for some time now – especially in light of the contribution it has made to aiding lives.  I’m sure you’ve all been champing at the bit to learn what it is and how helpful it can be to you personally. Let’s crack on.


Compassion Focussed Therapy was originated by Prof. Paul Gilbert OBE. His initial interest was in the evolution of human psychology. (Something Neurolations explored a good many moons ago. Click here for a recap.)

Developing CFT from there, he researched shame – the causes and treatment of what arises from it. In addition to neuroscience, other ingredience includes inspirations from CBT, psychodynamic and the Person-Centred approaches. For example, Socratic questioning and Motivational Interviewing are used in CFT. In 2006 Prof. Gilbert set up the Compassionate Mind Foundation.

The best person to introduce CFT is the man himself of course. So here’s a link to an interview (approx. 11 min’s) in which he expands on the problems with self criticism.

5 Key Elements
  1. Learning that our human brain has evolved new bits on top of old bits. Getting the bits that react and the bits that think to match each other is tricky. We did not design the way our minds work, so how are we to blame for that? We aren’t to blame.
  2. The way we form. Ever heard the saying: “You can’t put an old head on young shoulders”? The fears we have to cope with growing up and the defencesCFTABI

    we create to counter them is all done to the best of our ability at the time. Our behaviour is shaped by them, so how much are we truly to blame for their consequences? We aren’t to blame.

  3. Learning it’s okay to relax and recharge; being kind to ourselves is necessary, not just being selfish or letting down our guard.
  4. Remoulding a sense of self around a kinder way of thinking helps the “trickiness”.
  5. Emotion first; thinking second. When we can be compassionate to ourselves (and others) problems like anxiety, self criticism and shame can be worked on.
Empowering Direction

Emotions evolved to protect us from threats. They drive us to gain protection, safety, rest. They alert us and we act to manage our lives.

But sometimes our emotions alert us to what is not a real threat. We only imagine it is. Our emotions run wild and get the better of us. We can end up harming ourselves and others because of our conditioning and our condition.

CFT Diagram
Compassion changes brain chemisty in helpful ways.


No one asks for a brain injury, it happens – even if by being attacked. Something caused that attacker to behave that way. And yes, that can be extremely hard to accept!

As you can see, the red, amber and green lightening bolts indicate the direction of energy from and to the red, amber and green circles. The Five Steps are to help keep track of which circle our mind’s energy is in and why. All three circles are necessary from time to time. It depends on the situation we’re in.

As soon as something makes us unsafe, or for some reason disconnected with others, or no longer content, we feel threatened by loss. The compassionate energy we take with us to deal with that real threat can help us use our amber ambitions. Ambitions achieved, we’re back in the green pastures of Elysium, so to speak.

A couple of links before I go:-


Added fun

That’s it for now. More next month. Keep taking care.


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