Introducing compassion-focused therapy

Paul Gilbert
The healing properties of compassion have been written about for centuries. The Dalai Lama often stresses that if you want others to be happy – focus on compassion; if you want to be happy yourself – focus on compassion (Dalai Lama 1995, 2001). Although all clinicians agree that compassion is central to the doctor–patient and therapist–client relationship, recently the components of compassion have been looked at through the lens of Western psychological science and research (Gilbert 2000, 2005a, 2009; Davidson 2002; Neff 2003a,b). Compassion can be thought of as a skill that one can train in, with in creasing evidence that focusing on and practising com passion can influence neurophysiological and immune systems (Davidson 2003; Lutz 2008). Compassion-focused therapy refers to the under pinning theory and process of applying a compassion model to psychotherapy. Compassionate mind training refers to specific activities designed to develop compassionate attributes and skills, particularly those that influence affect regula tion. Compassion-focused therapy adopts the philosophy that our understanding of psychological and neurophysiological processes is developing at such a rapid pace that we are now moving beyond ‘schools of psychotherapy’ towards a more integrated, biopsycho social science of psycho therapy (Gilbert 2009)...
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