Compassion Focused Therapy

The power of compassion was noticed by medical circles as well. A British clinical psychologist, dr Paul Gilbert, applied compassion to therapy and Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) hence was born. Initially, the therapy was used to help people who suffer from high levels of self-criticism and shame. These individuals mostly develop their negative self-perception following childhood neglect and lack of affection.  

Because the main focus of the therapy is work with emotions and brain regions which are responsible for their rising, CFT can be useful for many people, especially nowadays, to help learn emotional regulation through self-work. Through the training of compassion, a person changes the neuro-patterns responsible for anxiety, self-criticism, shame, guilt, and anger.

The therapy concentrates on three types of mental systems which could be isolated with regards to emotions. These are:

Fear and danger system (survival mode) governed by adrenalin and cortisol 

Soothe and recover system – governed by endorphin and oxytocin 

Drive and resources acquisition system (motivation center) – regulated by dopamine

Shame plays a central role in the therapy, and there are three main groups into which the shame could be classified in CFT:

Shame for someone else

This feeling of embarrassment when someone else (e.g., your friend) did or said something in public which embarrasses them so much, that you feel that kind of embarrassment. Another person may or may not feel the embarrassment. You also do not need to be personally acquainted with the person to feel this.

External shame

The feeling of embarrassment or shame that other people perceive us negatively.

That’s when the opinion of others matters to us more than it should, and we attribute self-worth to how we think others define us

Internal shame

The result of self-criticism, this shame comes from our internal self-perception. Self-worth and confidence suffer the most when this feeling of shame is present. 

CFT combines the discoveries of neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, Buddhist teachings, and more. It implements a social element and concentrates on changing internal perception while working with both internal and external world interpretation. Compassion in this therapy is based majorly on Eastern philosophies and proves to positively alter emotional centers, which on the first sight do not seem to be interconnected. We now can see proof that compassion is a very needed emotion, feeling, or skill to possess since its transformational power can indeed change your life.

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