CFT/Compassion Focused Therapy 

Application areas: Trans diagnostic.

Developed by: Paul Gilbert in 2012.

The goal of CFT is to increase well-being through compassion for the self and others.  

CFT maintains that engaging in compassion is central to change and well-being (which could be on an individual or group level).

It was developed from developmental psychology, evolutionary psychology and Buddhism. Through science and action, it aims at helping to alleviate human suffering.

Compassion is an awareness and need for relief of suffering. Humans have evolved into creative, loving, kind beings driven to help others and survive challenges. Conversely, people may also present with negative attributes when in survival mode.

CFT facilitates the qualities of altruism and caring. This builds access to tolerance and compassion in the interests of both oneself and others.

The CFT model proposes three systems that influence emotional states:

  • Threat system (based on survival)
  • Drive System (based on achievement motivation)
  • Care giving system (to care and soothe).

CFT aims at enhancing the care giving system. The development of self-compassion begins by identifying historical causes of i.e. self-criticism. Then, safety/defence behaviours and their consequences are identified.

Change is brought about by 10 CFT exercises (https://positivepsychology.com/compassion-focused-therapy-training-exercises-worksheets/ ), as well as by appreciation exercises, mindfulness and Compassion Focused imagery exercises.   

CFT organisations are The Compassionate Mind Foundation in the USA, and The Compassionate Mind Foundation in the UK, but it is taught and applied worldwide.

Resources: www.compassionfocusedtherapy.com  and  https://positivepsychology.com

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Contributions by
Prof David Edwards
Dr Linda Blokland
Matthew Watkin
Edgar Tyrone
Bertus Swanepoel
Dr Shane Pienaar-Du Bruyn