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Compassion-focused therapy (CFT)

Compassion-focused therapy (CFT)

Compassion-focused therapy (CFT) Looks to help those who struggle with shame and self-criticism. Often these can be the driving forces behind other mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. The approach was founded by Paul Raymond Gilbert, a clinical psychologist. It is considered an integrative therapy as it uses tools from other psychotherapies. It also uses research and tools from Buddhism, neuroscience, and evolutionary therapy.

According to CFT theory, the threat, drive, and contentment systems evolved throughout human history in order to facilitate survival. Early humans were eager to avoid or overcome threats, seek resources such as food or intimacy, and enjoy the benefits of being part of a social community. Proponents of CFT suggest these systems are still active and affect human emotions, actions, and beliefs today. If a threatening stimulus is received, for example, a person may experience different feelings (such as fear, anxiety, or anger), exhibit various behaviors (submission or a fight or flight response), and develop certain cognitive biases (jumping to conclusions, stereotyping, or assuming it is always better to be safe than sorry).

People in therapy might learn:

-Appreciation exercises or activities emphasize the things an individual enjoys. These exercises may include making a list of likes, taking time to savor the moment when something enjoyable is noticed, and other positive rewarding behaviors.
-Mindfulness, or the ability to pay attention to the current moment in a non-judgmental manner.
-Compassion-focused imagery exercises, or the use of guided memories and fantasies to first stimulate the mind and then the physiological systems. The goal of compassion-focused imagery exercises is the production of a relational image that stimulates the soothing system.

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