Compassion Focused CBT

Incorporates a compassion element alongside traditional Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Compassion focused therapy was primarily designed as way of treating self loathing and shame. It has neurobiological underpinnings and is based on three key messages.

  1. You are not at fault for the things that have happened in your life but it is your responsibility to alleviate your suffering.
  2. Compassion is about choosing the best version of you that you can be.
  3. You are living a life that was not of your choosing.

We are all born with the threat system intact as this is the first system to be developed. For many people with three well developed systems we can choose which one to operate from depending on the situation. However for some people who have had a difficult childhood we believe the care-giving system is less well developed and therefore gives less opportunity to deal effectively with stress. This model supports people to develop compassion and self compassion in order to alleviate suffering and increase effective coping skills.

Threat System Drive System Care-giving System
Motivation Survive Achieve, win Look-after, soothe
Attention Threat-focused Goals, advantage Empathy to distress
Thoughts About danger Achieving Caring, soothing
Emotions Fear, anxiety Positive, motivated Safeness
Physiology Highly aroused Aroused Calm
Behavior Fight or flight Focused Look-after, soothe

CFT proposes that humans have three systems which manage their emotional states, each part has its own signature neurobiology, and comes with different motivations, thoughts, feelings and actions.

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