Compassion Focused Therapy
CFT was initially developed by Professor Paul Gilbert for individuals with mental health difficulties linked to high levels of shame and critical thinking (Leaviss & Uttley, 2014). Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) draws on evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, attachment, cognitive behaviour therapy and mindfulness and compassion practices. CFT recognises the importance of being able to engage our own suffering in a compassionate way, and helps people to deal with distress and challenging emotions (Kolts, 2016).
Research has demonstrated the importance of self-compassion for psychological functioning (Neff & McGehee, 2010). Jazaeir et al. (2012) identified compassion as a predictor of psychological health and wellbeing and found that it was associated with fewer negative feelings and stress aswell as more positive feelings and greater social connectedness. A systematic review conducted by Leaviss & Uttley (2014) suggested CFT as a particularly helpful intervention for clients experiencing high shame and criticism. Research has found that CFT is associated with reductions in depression, anxiety, shame, and self-criticism and increased ability to self soothe in response to emotional distress (Lucre & Corten, 2012). Research conducted on the CFT group in St. Patrick’s demonstrated that group CFT was effective in reducing symptoms of mental ill health for service users who attended the group. These improvements were associated with improvements in self-criticism and fears of self-compassion (Cuppage, Baird, Gibson, Booth and Hevey, under review).
The Compassion Focused Therapy group commenced in St Patrick’s University Hospital in February 2014, and in St Edmundsbury Hospital in July 2014. Groups are facilitated by the Psychology Department.