Compassion Focused Therapy Resources
Compassionate Mind Training
Compassion is defined as sensitivity to our own and others suffering, and the motivation to alleviate or prevent it. Most of us understand “intellectually” the notion of compassion yet struggle to motivate ourselves in healthy ways to be helpful to ourselves and/or others. Fortunately, we already know how prepare ourselves for something challenging, such as shooting for goal in sport, performing a piece on a musical instrument, or perhaps sitting with a friend who is having a hard time. First, we settle ourselves, calming our mind, then we create a sense of inner reassurance and then we engage courageously (despite our fears) in the challenging action.
Compassionate mind training reflects this shifting from a threat-based mindset (e.g. angry, anxious, traumatised, self-critical, overwhelmed) to a more compassionate mindset making it much more likely we will make helpful choices. The key skills to achieve a more workable balance between our threat, drive and safety-soothing systems are:
- Soothing Rhythm Breathing – slowing our mind and body, finding a calming inner rhythm through our breath.
- Safe Place Imagery to build a sense of safeness, calmness, being welcomed and connected.
- Building our compassionate self – acknowledging it is not our fault we are suffering, rather that we just find ourselves here in the flow of life, with genes we did not choose, tricky brains we did not design, shaped by our life experiences. Rather we choose to drop blaming and shaming ourselves and instead seek ways to help ourselves and others through strength, courage and commitment.
How to use the Compassionate Mind Training recordings
The longer versions of the recordings you might listen to once or twice. Once you have a grasp of the key concepts of the exercise, listen to the shorter (1-3 minute) versions a couple of times and see if you can create your own personalised version in your mind and use it in everyday life. For example, shifting to a more compassionate self before arriving home at night, or responding to a SMS, starting a difficult task, or joining a challenging meeting of colleagues or a gathering of friends. The brief version of the exercise you might also use when there is even less time to shift, such as when you are about to take a difficult phone call, or you find yourself feeling angry/scared/flat and you are about to impulsively do something unhelpful. Even a tiny shift into a more compassionate self is likely to be healthy and helpful for us and others.
The other core exercises below, narrated by Dr James Kirby, expand further on some of the concepts included in my recordings. I would encourage you to listen to them at least once and see if they help you develop your own compassionate mind practice.
Soothing Rhythm Breathing (8 min)
Soothing Rhythm Breathing (90 seconds)
Soothing Rhythm Breathing (25 seconds)
Safe place Imagery (8 min)
Safe place Imagery (3 min)
Safe place Imagery (30 sec)
These exercises are narrated by Dr James Kirby on his excellent Compassion Initiative site (Soundcloud).
- Soothing Rhythm Breathing
- Face and Voice Tones
- Safe Place
- Compassionate State
- Compassionate Image
- Compassion Flowing Into Oneself
- Leaves on a stream
- Building our compassionate self (Part 1)
- Building our compassionate self (Part 2)
Compassion Focused Therapy Group Exercises
Peter facilitates a CFT Group and these recordings are for group participants use between sessions.
Module 1. Preparation for the compassionate path
Module 2. Soothing Rhythm Breathing (Introduction)
Module 3 Soft Landing and Preparation for the Compassionate Path
Stepping Stones to a Compassionate Life
The Stepping Stones to a Compassionate Life Game is a therapeutic game that allows players to explore what it would be like to engage and put into action the three flows of compassion: compassion to others, compassion from others, and self-compassion. Players will have the opportunity to identify a difficult moment in their life where they would like to be more compassionate and the fears, blocks, and resistances that get in the way of being their most compassionate self.
A self-help book that provides a highly readable overview of compassion focused therapy and a practical workbook to put it into practice.
A comprehensive introduction to Compassion Focused Therapy by the founder of CFT.
An excellent podcast that provides audio and discussion on the key CFT exercises as well as spcific podcasts that dig deeper into various compassion topics.