Coastal Child and Adult Therapeutic Services

Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)

Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) is a psychotherapy that aims to promote emotional health and wellbeing. It is an integrative therapy that helps clients to relate to their difficulties in a compassionate way. The combined evolutionary, affective neuroscience and attachment perspectives that inform the model allow for an understanding of mental suffering in non-shaming ways. This can be beneficial to clients as they may hold their own self-critical, self-blaming and shaming views. CFT has been shown to be beneficial for people with high levels of shame and self-criticism, which may drive anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms.

The approach explores the different emotional systems and associated motivations.  For instance,

  • Emotions to help deal with threat and keep us safe and protected
  • Emotions for stimulating us and achieve and acquire resources.
  • Emotions that give rise to safety, contentment and slowing down.

The balance of emotional systems can be offset for individuals, and they can get ‘stuck’ with emotions, giving raise to difficulties in wellbeing and functioning.  CFT aims to create emotional congruence between what individuals think and feel by learning to engage in their struggles in a warm, accepting and reassuring way as opposed to critically.  Such an approach can help individuals feel safe, build connections and increase their sense of wellbeing.  When someone feels shameful or critical of their feelings and/or actions, they can avoid or push aware support and therapeutic help increasing their struggles.  CFT acknowledges this process and works with the fears, resistances and blocks that may be getting in the way.  Whilst providing a de-shaming view of struggles, it also aims to build responsibility and skills so you can manage life challenges and build fulfilling and meaningful lives.

CFT incorporates various approaches including psychoeducation relating to emotions and our brains, exploring the function of self-criticism and then exercises to build compassion, such as mindfulness, imagery and compassion cultivation practices and reasoning.  Outside of the sessions, you may be given work to complete to practice the skills you have learned.

CCATS staff trained in CFT: