Compassionate Focused Therapy (CFT) is an effective therapeutic approach that can help alleviate anxiety and emotional distress. It is a form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) with the emphasis on developing a compassionate and accepting relationship with yourself and others.
Who can it help?
People with anxiety difficulties, depression and trauma can all benefit from this approach. In fact, some of the more challenging aspects of certain therapies such as Exposure and Response Prevention in CBT for OCD can be too intense before doing work such as developing a stronger self-compassionate side and becoming more confident that you can tolerate strong emotions, all of which you get from CFT.
How does it work?
Through understanding the function of human emotions, CFT allows you to develop a new way of sitting with negative feelings. Gradually you learn how to be kind and understanding towards yourself despite the challenges life throws at you.
The therapy includes firstly getting to know you and the symptoms you're struggling with (e.g. panic attacks; worrying; procrastinating; relationship difficulties). Also your background and life stresses for example at work or home. This enables you and the therapist to see the ways in which your past and present life experiences have shaped your responses to others and yourself. Often there’s a fear about being rejected or criticised, or a worry that you aren’t good enough which causes you to beat yourself up when you do something wrong, people-please or avoid things that make challenging.
You then learn and practice tools to cope with strong emotions, calm your nervous system down and respond to your own distress in the same way that probably comes naturally to you already when you are supporting a friend or loved one with their distress.
Over time you start to learn to accept yourself and others, and create a more meaningful life because you don't need to avoid things that feel challenging. Plus you start to believe in yourself and that you deserve nice things too!
You can explore CFT at home with some excellent resources including:
🎇 The Compassionate Mind Workbook by Chris Irons and Elaine Beaumont
🎇Recovering from Truauma using Compassionate Focused Therapy by Deborah Lee
🎇 The Self Compassion App (The icon has three orange circles), this was developed by self-compassion experts Chris Irons and Elaine Beaumont
Or if you are ready to get the support of a therapist in our team contact us here for an initial chat about this.