Compassion-Centered Therapy CFT (Compassion-Centered Therapy), Is a form of therapy developed by Paul Gilbert designed to generate compassionate motivation and caring-oriented emotions in patients, as well as to develop some type of emotional balance.
In this article you will learn the main features of this form of psychotherapeutic intervention.
What is Compassionate Therapy?
In Buddhist tradition, the bird of wisdom is said to have two wings, one of which is Mindfulness and the other is compassion.
It is interesting to clarify that compassion as understood in the realm of mindfulness and psychotherapy has nothing to do with pity or superiority, but rather it is linked to openness and sensitivity to suffering (The clean and the others, and by oneself, we also understand that of psychologists) and the motivation to reduce or prevent it.
According to Paul Gilbert, two aspects follow from the definition we have seen. On the one hand, the courage to approach suffering, accept those we don’t like, Accept our reactions … On the other hand, the ability to try to alleviate and prevent suffering (this also includes acquiring the wisdom and skills necessary for this).
This model draws on a variety of sources: evolutionary psychology, condition theory, affective neuroscience, mindfulness and deep psychology, and it targets people with high levels of shame and self-criticism. These two aspects are at the root of the suffering of the vast majority of people who undergo therapy.
The phases of this form of intervention
The scheme that guides therapy is a 4-layered model, taken from Russell L. Kolts, in which the phases of therapy are staggered.
1. Therapeutic relationship
At this point the challenge is provide a warm and safe environment in which the person receiving the therapy can recognize and experience the therapist as a well-being person.
2. Compassionate understanding
In this phase we will focus on help clients begin to understand their emotions and vital events in a compassionate and guilt-free manner. Here we will see how evolution has played a very important role in shaping our emotions as well as our mind and life.
In this third step we will develop awareness of experience in its different planes (Physical, emotional, cognitive) as well as the culture of acceptance and non-judgment.
4. Compassionate practices
In this phase, it will be possible for the patient to change his self-criticism to a kinder voice, the compassionate Self will develop, i.e. a kind and brave version of themselves that serves as a benchmark to have enough courage to face the things that terrify us.
Emotional regulation systems
A very important aspect in therapy that can help patients / clients understand many of their reactions are emotional regulation systems, understood as the different families of emotions that act on each of us. It would be three types of emotional regulation systems.
1. Based on the threat
When this system is activated, our way of relating to the world is based on fear and alarm, and our responses are based on flight, struggle or paralysis … The emotions that belong to this system are anger, anxiety or disgust.… Its motto is “better to prevent than to regret”.
2. Based on achievements
This system is what it has to do with when we get into the resource-seeking mentality and activate the reward system in usBy the logic of the more I succeed, the better I feel. His motto would be: “Let’s go.”
3. Based on calm and satisfaction
this system it allows us to bring a little calm and balance to each of us. It has to do with the feeling of peace and security, and it is an easy system to identify when a child is in the company of loved ones. Taking care of yourself, meditating, and being with the people we love help strengthen this system.
Work in therapy
The challenge is to introduce a balance between the three systems that we have seen. Each of them has its function, but what happens in this type of society in which we live is that there is a predominance of the realization system coupled with the threat system: If we don’t get what we want, we get frustrated …
The ultimate goal of this therapy is to move patients away from threat-centered ways of being in the world and bring them closer to a kind, wise, and confident outlook.
Compassion-focused therapy CFT has been applied to a growing list of problems, including depression, psychosis, compulsive eating, anxiety, anger, trauma, social anxiety, and personality disorders.