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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 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.
How Does CFT 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.
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.
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.
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.
Conditions Treated by CFT
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 the following conditions:
- self harm
- eating disorders
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 (CFT) Worksheets?
Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) is a therapeutic approach that focuses on cultivating compassion and self-compassion in clients. CFT worksheets are tools that can be used in therapy sessions to help clients understand and practice compassion towards themselves and others. Here are a few reasons why CFT worksheets can be useful for clients:
- Enhance understanding: Worksheets can help clients better understand the principles and concepts of CFT, including the three flows model (i.e., the flow of threat, drive, and soothing) and the compassionate mind. This increased understanding can help clients apply these concepts to their daily lives more effectively.
- Increase motivation: Worksheets can help clients reflect on their experiences and identify areas where they would like to cultivate compassion. This process can increase motivation for change and help clients set specific goals for their therapy.
- Practice skills: Worksheets can provide clients with specific exercises and techniques to practice compassion, such as compassionate imagery or compassionate letter writing. These exercises can help clients build their compassion muscles and develop new habits of relating to themselves and others.
- Track progress: Worksheets can be used to track progress over time. Clients can reflect on how their level of compassion towards themselves and others has changed, and identify areas where they still need to work.
Overall, CFT worksheets can be a valuable tool for clients who are working to cultivate compassion and self-compassion in their lives.
Why Our Compassion-Focused Therapy Worksheets?
Our Compassion-Focused Therapy worksheets are designed to help practitioners deliver therapy to their clients more effectively.
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)
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
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