Compassion-focused therapy (CFT): what is it, phases, and what is it for?
These are the characteristics, phases and basic pillars of compassion-focused therapy.
The compassion-focused therapy CFT (compassion-focused therapy)is a therapy modality developed by Paul Gilbert aimed at generating compassionate motivation and care-directed emotions in patients, as well as developing a certain kind of emotional balance.
In this article you will learn the main characteristics of this form of psychotherapeutic intervention.
What does compassion-focused therapy consist of?
In the Buddhist tradition, it is said that the bird of wisdom has two wings, one of them is the attention (Mindfulness) and the other is compassion.
It is interesting to clarify that compassion as it is understood in the field of Mindfulness and psychotherapy has nothing to do with pity or superiority, but rather is linked to openness and sensitivity to suffering (one's own and others', and by (our own and that of others, and by our own we also mean that of psychologists) and motivation to reduce or prevent it.
According to Paul Gilbert, there are two aspects that derive from the definition we have seen. On the one hand, the courage to to approach suffering, to accept what we do not like, to accept our reactions...to accept our reactions... On the other hand, the ability to try to alleviate and prevent suffering (this also includes the acquisition of wisdom and skills necessary to do so).
This model draws from several sources: evolutionary psychology, attachment theory, affective neuroscience, Mindfulness and depth psychology, and is aimed at people with high levels of shame and self-criticism.. These two aspects are at the basis of the suffering of the vast majority of people who come to therapy.
The phases of this form of intervention
The scheme that guides the therapy is a 4-layer model, taken from Russell L. Kolts, in which the phases of therapy are staggered.
At this stage the challenge is to to provide a warm and safe environment in which the person coming to therapy can recognize and experience the therapist as a person committed to his or her well-being.
2. Compassionate understanding
In this phase we will focus on helping clients to begin to understand their emotions and life events in a compassionate and non-blaming manner.. Here we will see how evolution has played a very important role in shaping our emotions, as well as our mind and our life.
In this third stage we will develop the awareness of the experience in its different planes (physical, emotional, cognitive) as well as the (physical, emotional, cognitive) as well as the cultivation of acceptance and non-judgment.
4. Compassionate practices
In this phase we will enable the patient to change his self-criticism for a kinder voice, we will develop the compassionate self, that is, a wise, kind and courageous version of themselves that will serve as a reference point to gather enough courage to face the things that terrify us.
Emotional regulation systems
An aspect that is very important in therapy and that can help patients/clients to understand many of their reactions are the emotional regulation systems, understood as different families of emotions that act in each one of us. There are three types of emotional regulation systems.
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, fight or paralysis.... The emotions belonging to this system are anger, anxiety or disgust...... Its motto is "better safe than sorry".
This system is the one that has to do when we place ourselves in the resource-seeking mentality and activates the reward system in us. activates in us the reward systemthrough the logic that the more successful I am, the better I feel. Its motto would be: "let's get it".
3. Based on calm and satisfaction
This system allows us to bring a certain calmness and balance to each one of us.. It has to do with the feeling of tranquility and security, and it is a system easy to identify when a child is in the company of his loved ones. Self-care, meditation, and being with the people we appreciate make this system consolidate.
The work in therapy
The challenge is to introduce balance between the three systems we have seen. Each one 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 system of achievement together with the system of threatIf we don't get what we want, we get frustrated...
The ultimate goal of this therapy is none other than to get patients away from threat-centered ways of being in the world and to bring them closer to a kind, wise and trusting perspective.
CFT has been applied to a growing list of problems, including depression, psychosis, binge eating, anxiety, anger, trauma, social anxiety and personality disorders.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)