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Clinicians can use Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the tools to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process.
What is Compassion-Focused Therapy?
Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) is cognitive behavioral therapy style that focuses on treating those that struggle with hypercriticism of oneself, shame and low self-esteem associated with past traumas or abuse. Founded by British psychologist Paul Gilbert, compassion-focused therapy began after observing patients suffering from self-criticism struggled to find a supportive inner voice when participating in traditional therapies. CFT takes inspiration from many different therapeutic approaches and studies but the most recognizable are cognitive behavioral therapy, developmental psychology, evolutionary psychology, social psychology, neuroscience and buddhist philosophy. Gilbert grounded his work around the current understanding of emotional regulation; threat and self protection system, drive and excitement system, and contentment and social safeness system. Through treatment he sought to bring these three affect systems into balance. Gilbert stated that CFT was made from 5 particular realizations:
- The human brain and health conditions alike are products of evolution.
- The human brain is designed for social processing and is highly affected by relationships. Affectionate and caring relationships lead to strong psychological benefits.
- The view of and the way one may treat oneself has a strong effect on their psychological well being. More particularly, those suffering from high self-criticism and shame can further exacerbate negative symptoms associated with mental health conditions.
- The complex question of recent human cognitive evolution’s correlation with much earlier evolutionary conditions.
- Adequate compassion training has physical, psychological and therapeutic benefits strong enough to help those suffering from severe mental health conditions.
The aim of this therapy is to teach individuals struggling with shame and self-criticism to be compassionate toward themselves and others. By doing so, patients are more effective in regulating their mood and feelings of comfort, safety and self- acceptance. Paul Gilbert started the Compassionate Mind Foundation charity in 2006 and would go on to be awarded the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to psychology in 2011.
How Does Compassion-Focused Therapy Work?
As stated in CFT, the emotion regulation system evolved throughout human history; motivating our earliest relatives to avoid or conquer dangerous situations, seek food, mates and other resources, and to psychologically thrive from the benefits of a close social community. In the belief that these systems still affect humans daily, Gilbert theorized that when humans experience imbalances in these areas mental illness and maladaptive processes and development begin to develop, forcing themselves to hyperfocus on threat instead of comfort.
Threat and self protection system
People regularly feel a wide range of emotions associated with this system like fear, anger and anxiety that stimulate the freeze, fight or flight response. Some develop cognitive biases that manifest themselves in different ways like stereotyping and jumping to conclusions.
Drive and excitement system
Driving people toward their goals and motivating them to collect resources, the drive and excitement system pushes those to make shouse the stimulate feelings of excitement. Those suffering from hyperfocus in the drive and excitement system sometimes struggle with drug and alcohol abuse or even unsafe sexual practices.
Contentment and social safeness system
Associated with feelings of happiness, the contentment and social safeness system also rewards the absence of threat in one’s life. Typically, the perfect balance of this system includes awareness of being socially connected and safe. Unique in this way, the contentment and social safeness system help regulate both the threat and drive system.
With great versatility in its effectiveness and a singular treatment or in conjunction with other styles of therapy, Compassion focused therapy can take anywhere from 4 to 15 sessions to achieve completion. Initially, clinicians explain to their patients the evolution of the brain and the systems that have developed in humans to regulate emotion. Next clinicians begin the process of compassionate mind training (CMT). Compassionate mind training aims to teach the patient what to recognize compassion and become better at expressing it to those around them and themselves. Through the use of compassion-focused therapy worksheets, meditation, role play, visualization and other processes, patients learn to appreciate the little things in day to day life. Clinicians explore possible traumas causing patients feelings of self-criticalness as well as why they may continue to feed into such negative, psychologically detrimental practices.
Which Conditions can Compassion-Focused Therapy Treat?
Compassion based therapy has been effective in treating many different diagnoses and symptoms associated with lack of compassion. Made to cater to patients that did not particularly benefit from more traditional therapies, CFT patients understand, feel and express compassion. Having particular effectiveness when treating feelings associated with self harm, CFT clinicians have had success in treating those suffering from anxiety, shame, self-criticism, depression, eating disorders, anger and psychosis.
How Effective is Compassion-Focused Therapy?
Though a fairly new therapy style in the realm of cognitive behavioral therapy, compassion-focused therapy has seen considerable success in a number of research studies. A study spanning from 2013 to 2022, consisting mostly of women, suggested the CFT was effective in improving compassion based outcomes and clinical symptomology from baseline to post intervention. The study specifically reported improvements in self-compassion, self-criticism, self-reassurance, fear of self-compassion, depression and eating disorders.
Whilst seen to be effective by most CFT clinicians and researchers, some find considerable limitations within this therapy style. In some unique scenarios, patients may have an aversion to compassion so strong that they may find this treatment style too abrasive. Moreover, some may not be able to recognize or even understand compassion itself. CFT can sometimes be challenging for patients in its use of imagery in treatment. At times the use of images can be unsettling for patients and even triggering.
Final Thoughts on Compassion-Focused Therapy
Compassion-focused therapy is a cognitive behavioral therapy style that attempts to teach patients how to accept, recognize and express compassion to themselves and others. Through the use of compassion-focused therapy worksheets, meditation, role play, visualization and other processes, clinicians help patients learn to appreciate themselves, those around them and everyday occurrences throughout day to day life, allowing them to better regulate their emotions and behaviors and become an effective part of a healthy social community.
Why Compassion-Focused Therapy Worksheets?
Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) is a form of psychotherapy that aims to promote emotional well-being and alleviate psychological distress by cultivating compassion and self-compassion. CFT worksheets can be helpful tools for clients in this therapy approach as they provide a structured way to explore and practice various skills and exercises related to compassion and self-compassion.
Here are a few reasons why CFT worksheets can be beneficial for clients:
- Increased understanding: CFT worksheets can help clients understand the underlying principles and concepts of compassion-focused therapy. They can provide a clear and concise explanation of how compassion can help alleviate distress and improve well-being.
- Skill-building: CFT worksheets can provide clients with opportunities to practice specific skills related to self-compassion and compassion for others. This can include exercises to help clients develop self-compassion, as well as activities to help them practice empathizing with others.
- Personalization: CFT worksheets can be customized to meet the unique needs of individual clients. By tailoring the worksheets to the client’s specific concerns and goals, therapists can help clients develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their struggles.
- Progress tracking: CFT worksheets can also serve as a way for clients to track their progress over time. By reflecting on their experiences and completing exercises regularly, clients can see how their attitudes and behaviors related to compassion and self-compassion are changing.
Overall, CFT worksheets can be a helpful tool for clients in cultivating compassion and self-compassion, as well as in improving their emotional well-being and reducing psychological distress.
Why Our Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) Worksheets?
Our Compassion-Focused Therapy Worksheets are designed to help practitioners deliver Interpersonal Therapy to their clients more effectively.
Key Features of Our Compassion-Focused Therapy Worksheets:
- US letter size (8.5″ x 11″)
- Fillable / Printable
- Editable (If you need to make changes, we can provide you with a free editing website that will allow you to make changes to questions/statements)
- Longform responses
- Short form responses
Benefits of our Compassion-Focused Therapy Worksheets:
- Take in responses from clients on a digital device like a computer
- Organize client documents in an easy to find folder on your computer or in the cloud
- Search for specific questions and/or answers by using “CTRL + f” function on your keyboard when viewing your PDF
- Legibly read your client’s answers
- Print copies that are high in quality – (we made this form grey on purpose! Much easier on your printer)
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