Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) – Dr Chris Irons

Course Overview:

Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) is an integrated psychological approach developed by Professor Paul Gilbert. It draws from evolutionary psychology, attachment theory, social psychology, neuroscience and Buddhism. It was initially developed to help people with enduring mental health problems, often linked with high levels of shame and self-criticism. It is currently being used as an innovative treatment for a wide variety of mental health difficulties, as well as in school and organisational settings.

During this one day course, you’ll explore the many of the main ideas in CFT. The day mixes presentations with experiential exercises designed to help cultivate a compassionate mind. It will include:


• The science and theory behind CFT, how disciplines such as neuroscience, evolutionary psychology and mindfulness have informed the development of CFT
• The three major emotion systems and why developing positive feelings associated with contentment, safeness and soothing can play a major role in managing distress and promoting wellbeing
• The key skills and approaches used in CFT, including compassion based imagery, the development of a compassionate self, and how compassion may be ‘put to work’ to engage with distress and suffering.

Workshop approaches will include:

• Didactic teaching
• Small and large group discussion
• Individual experiential practice
• Video clips

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this workshop, participants have an understanding of:

1. How evolutionary concepts can be used to help us understand our ‘tricky brain’ and how this can be applied to therapy sessions
2. Distinguish different types of positive emotions
3. Explain the complexities of threat processing, and our “multiple selves”
4. Work in the affiliative soothing system by utilising compassion focused imagery and process
5. Utilise compassionate practices (e.g. soothing breathing, compassionate self and other)
6. How to begin to use this approach to engage in client difficulties



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