What can a compassion-focused therapist help with? Compassion-focused therapy (CFT)
aims to help clients who experience deep-seated feelings of shame
and engage in persistent self-criticism. Because such individuals are often unable to view themselves or their behaviors in a positive light, they also often struggle with anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem, anger issues, and or relationship challenges—all of which can be treated with a compassion-focused approach.
Who is qualified to be a compassion-focused therapist? Licensed mental health professionals, including psychologists, social workers, and counselors, can practice compassion-focused therapy or incorporate compassion-focused techniques into their practice. Most who do so have sought additional training and or supervision in CFT. It is possible for therapists to obtain post-graduate certificates in CFT, though this is not required for a therapist to employ CFT techniques.
What happens during compassion-focused therapy? Compassion-focused therapists often start by teaching clients about their brain’s emotion regulation systems, especially if a history of abuse or neglect has left them overly attuned to threats and less able to self-soothe. Then, the therapist will employ techniques known as compassionate mind training (CMT)—which includes visualisation and role-play exercises, among others—to help the client better recognize compassion, understand its value, and develop the skills to practice it toward themselves and others.
How can I recognize a good compassion-focused therapist? Prospective clients should look for licensed mental health providers who have been trained or certified in compassion-focused therapy. And because CFT requires the client to closely examine their feelings of shame and the roots of their self-criticism, it’s especially important to find a therapist with whom one feels comfortable and able to speak openly about one’s thoughts and behaviors.