Compassion Focused Therapy

Compassion is commonly defined as sensitivity to suffering in oneself and others, with a commitment to try to alleviate and prevent it. Compassion focused therapy (CFT), developed in the 1990s by Paul Gilbert, is a hybrid of various therapeutic approaches rooted in biopsychosocial and evolutionary functional analytic approaches, Western psychotherapeutic interventions, and practices from the contemplative traditions. This entry details the development of CFT, discusses the intervention aspects unique to CFT, and describes several exercises used in compassionate mind training.


While working with standard cognitive behavioral therapy, Gilbert found that although many clients could recognize their depressive thinking (e.g., “I’m a failure and unlovable”) and generate alternatives (e.g., “Actually I have been able to achieve X, Y, Z”), they did not always feel better. Rather, they ...

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