The idea behind compassion-focused therapy (CFT) is that emotions, such as low mood, anxiety, anger and shame can be fuelled by an attitude that in order to be acceptable (to oneself or others) one has to reach certain standards, strive, achieve or just be a certain way. This can cause stress and mental and physical pressure.
Compassion-focused therapy promotes well-being and emotional healing by taking off some of this pressure by engaging differently with what is difficult in your life and taking a kinder, more caring and compassionate stance towards yourself and others.
CFT incorporates principles and techniques from various schools of psychology (e.g. understanding striving and compassion from an evolutionary perspective), treatment modalities (e.g. CBT) and philosophies (e.g. Bhuddist ideas). The primary technique in CFT is compassionate mind training, which involves your psychologist helping you to develop experiences of inner warmth, safety and soothing through various exercises. You will be asked to engage in behaviours that are positively rewarding for you, pay attention to the moment in a non-judgemental way (see mindfulness), and use compassion-focused imagery exercises to stimulate the soothing system in your brain. You will also work on instances of self-criticism and self-attack. CFT is a structured therapy with homework assignments.
CFT has been shown to be helpful for people with a range of emotional difficulties who tend to judge themselves negatively and are prone to feelings of shame and self-dislike. It tends to be a shorter-to medium-term approach to therapy.
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