Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)

Compassion focused therapy is an increasingly popular psychotherapy method designed to help individuals struggling with self-criticism and shame.

What is compassion focused therapy?

Compassion focused therapy (CFT) is used to help teens and young adults navigate self-criticism, which may be the result of abuse or neglect earlier in life. It incorporates mind-body awareness to help the client learn both compassion for others and for themselves. CFT can be used to treat conditions like anxiety, mood disorders, personality disorders, and more. Compassion focused therapy techniques may be used in both individual and group settings.

Compassion focused therapy was founded and developed by the British clinical psychologist, Paul Gilbert in the 1990s. Gilbert’s work has been instrumental in promoting the importance of compassion in mental health treatment, and his ideas have influenced many therapists and researchers in the field. He has published numerous books and papers on CFT and is widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on the subject. His contributions to the field of mental health have helped to promote a greater understanding of the role of compassion in the treatment of psychological disorders.

“The compassionate mind is the mind that transforms.”

Paul Gilbert, author of The Compassionate Mind.
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What is the goal of compassion focused therapy? 

The goal of CFT is to create a sense of compassion within the client, sometimes referred to as”the compassionate self.” CFT therapists explain how emotions are regulated in the brain through compassionate mind training to help shift the focus from feeling threatened to instead learning how to self-soothe in moments of stress.

From there, the client works on mindfulness and awareness (often in the form of mindfulness based cognitive therapy) in order to learn self-compassion and compassion for those around them. The process involves guided visualizations, compassionate imagery, and other techniques to break the routine of self-criticism and improve emotional regulation.

Therapist comforting teen in therapy

What conditions is CFT used for?

Compassion focused therapy has been shown to be effective for a number of diagnosed conditions and disorders.

CFT can help teens and young adults who are experiencing mental health issues such as:

  • Shame
  • Self-criticism
  • Trauma
  • Self-harm

CFT can also be an effective treatment for the following disorders:

  • Psychosis
  • Eating disorders
  • Hoarding
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Mixed diagnoses
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Anxiety disorders

How does CFT work?

CFT works to retrain the brain to reduce or eliminate the constant feeling of threat. CFT can help with:

  • Learning self compassion
  • Increasing feelings of safety
  • Developing compassion and greater empathy for others
  • Emotional regulation
  • Developing a soothing system
  • Improving overall mental health

Compassion focused therapists use a variety of techniques to overcome self-criticism and the disorders that come along with them. Common methodologies include:

  • Role-playing
  • Visualizations
  • Meditation
  • Compassionate motivation

What can CFT help with?

Teens and young adults who experience trauma early in life, such as abuse, neglect, or bullying, may develop negative thoughts and misperceptions of themselves. Virtual CFT is an even better option because you get access to experienced professionals, including therapists who specialize in CFT.

CFT methodologies experienced online are just as successful in lessening these emotions in the client and replacing them with the ability to have compassion for themselves, rather than criticism. Ultimately, CFT aims to help individuals soothe themselves, create a compassionate self, and accept soothing from others so they don’t feel like they’re in a constant state of attack.

Therapist offering compassion to a client that is dealing with trauma

Benefits of CFT

Compassion focused therapy offers a host of benefits, including:

  • Reduced impact of diagnosed mental health disorders
  • Reduce symptoms associated with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression
  • Increased mindfulness  
  • Decreased obsessive inner reflection, shame, and other negative feelings

Other types of therapy at Charlie Health

In addition to compassion focused therapy, Charlie Health utilizes a comprehensive suite of modalities for our teen and young adult clients. Our virtual IOP is completely customized based on the individual’s needs. Our weekly online program includes individual and family therapy, as well as personalized supported groups. Get started today.

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Comprehensive mental health treatment from home

90% of Charlie Health clients and their families would recommend Charlie Health