Compassion-Focused Therapy

Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) is a therapeutic approach that was developed by Paul Gilbert in the 1990s. CFT is based on the idea that developing compassion for oneself and others is an essential component of mental health and wellbeing. 

What is Compassion-Focused Therapy?

Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) is a type of psychotherapy that combines elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), evolutionary psychology, and Buddhist psychology. The aim of CFT is to help individuals develop a compassionate self-identity and cultivate a sense of warmth, kindness, and compassion towards themselves and others. CFT is a structured, short-term therapy that typically lasts between 12-20 sessions, although this can vary depending on the individual and their specific needs.

CFT is based on the idea that humans have evolved to be compassionate towards others, but that our modern lifestyles and culture can sometimes hinder our ability to be compassionate towards ourselves. The therapy emphasises the importance of developing a compassionate self-identity and fostering a sense of warmth, kindness, and compassion towards oneself and others.

What is Compassion-Focused Therapy Used to Treat?

CFT has been used to treat a range of mental health problems, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders, e.g. generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders, e.g. anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Relationship difficulties
CFT can also be used to enhance emotional wellbeing and improve overall quality of life.

How Does Compassion-Focused Therapy Work?

CFT works by helping individuals develop a compassionate self-identity and cultivating a sense of warmth, kindness and compassion towards oneself and others. CFT involves the following steps:

  1. Assessment: The therapist will conduct an initial assessment to understand the individual’s current symptoms, past      experiences and current level of functioning.
  2. Setting goals: The therapist will work with the individual to set specific, measurable goals for therapy.
  3. Developing a compassionate self-identity. The therapist will help the individual develop a compassionate self-identity, recognising that they are not to blame for their problems and that self-criticism is counterproductive.
  4. Developing compassion for others: The therapist will help the individual develop a sense of compassion for others, recognising that others also struggle with challenges and difficulties.
  5. Mindfulness exercises: The therapist will incorporate mindfulness exercises to help the individual become more aware of their thoughts and emotions, and to develop a more compassionate and accepting attitude towards themselves and others. 
  6. Cognitive restructuring: The therapist will help with individual identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs, and develop more positive and compassionate ways of thinking.
  7. Compassion-focused exercises: The therapist will incorporate compassion-focused exercises, such as compassionate imagery, letter writing, and exercises to help the individual develop and strengthen their sense of compassion.
  8. Evaluation: The therapist will regularly evaluate the individual’s progress and adjust the treatment plan as necessary.

Who is Suitable for Compassion-Focused Therapy?

CFT is suitable for most individuals who are experiencing distress related to negative patterns of thinking and behaviour, especially those who struggle with self-criticism, shame, and self-blame. CFT can also be beneficial for individuals who have difficulty with emotional regulation and who struggle with developing healthy relationships.

CFT may not be suitable for individuals who are in acute crisis or who have a severe mental health condition.

Get in Touch

If you or a loved one are seeking support, please get in touch by completing the enquiry form, or email me at

I will arrange a mutually agreeable time to have an initial consultation with you, at no cost and with no pressure to commit to further sessions. 

I offer both in-person and online appointments (by phone or video).

I aim to reply to all email enquiries within 3 working days, but if you require immediate help, please contact your local NHS urgent mental health helpline here

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