Compassion focused therapy teaches people how to feel compassionate to themselves and others during therapy and at other times.
Compassion involves empathy – being able to understand one’s own and other people’s feelings – and being caring, accepting and kindly tolerant of distress in self and others. Compassion-focused therapy teaches clients that, because of how our brains have evolved, anxiety, anger and depression are natural experiences which are ‘not our fault’.
Clients are helped to explore how early experiences (e.g. neglect, bullying, abuse or other threatening experiences) may relate to ongoing fears (e.g. of rejection, abuse), safety strategies (e.g. social avoidance or submissive behaviour), and unintended consequences such as social rejection or other mental health problems.
When people feel threatened and self-critical with strong bodily feelings, they can learn to slow their breathing and refocus attention on imagining a compassionate place, becoming a compassionate person, and/or imagining someone
compassionate talking to them. For example, someone who thinks s/he is useless and a failure can be taught to think kinder thoughts (e.g. ‘I’ve actually achieved… in my life’, ‘friends often seek my support’, ‘these
thoughts come only when I’m depressed and so aren’t real’).
Clients are helped to practise exercises to detect self-criticism and then refocus compassionately by creating and practising feelings and thoughts that are kind, supportive and encouraging, and noticing mindfully how this helps them. Some people take to this within a few sessions, and others within 10 or more sessions to work through resistance to positive feelings.
(Common Language for Psychotherapy Procedures The first 80; Isaac Marks, Editor, Lucio Sibilia & Stefania Borgo, Co-Editors)
Session cost; £45 for a 50 minute session
Free 30 min. consultation available
I am based in Norwich, Norfolk. Home visits and Skype are also available.