Compassion Focused Therapy

Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) is a type of psychotherapy that is based on the idea that developing a compassionate mindset towards oneself and others can promote mental well-being. CFT draws upon both Buddhist and Western psychology traditions, and is rooted in evolutionary psychology.
CTF harnesses the natural evolutionary capacity mammals have developed for caring for one another. This is one of three motivational systems in humans: the threat, drive, and soothing systems. Each of these states are associated with distinct emotional states, motivations, behaviours, neuroanatomy and neurochemistry. CFT proposes that optimal mental health depends on the balanced and adaptive use of all three emotional systems. Dysfunction arises when there is limited flexibility or excessive reliance on one system to the detriment of others. A less functional soothing system can be the result of trauma, neglect or inadequate opportunities to learn soothing from primary caregivers. CFT works to activate the soothing system, which is associated with feelings of safety, trust, bonding and nurture, in order to develop a more compassionate mindset.
CTF supports dissemination of the flow of compassion, helping individuals open towards being compassionate to others, receiving compassion from others, and being compassionate toward themselves. Through CTF, individuals can develop the courage to engage in the suffering that they are experiencing, turning towards it rather than away from it, as well as developing the wisdom to identify what they can do to help address it and prevent it.
The therapy involves a range of techniques, including mindfulness, visualization, and compassionate imagery exercises. CFT may be used to treat a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, trauma, and eating disorders. The therapy is typically delivered over several sessions and may be combined with other forms of psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).

Article written by Claire South