How To Work Most Effectively With Psychology Tools For Developing Self-Compassion Audio Collection
We’re really excited to have launched our largest audio collection so far. Psychology Tools for Developing Self-Compassion was developed with Dr Chris Irons, a leading Compassion Focused Therapy expert, researcher, author and international CFT trainer, who has been working with this approach for over 20 years. It’s designed to help clients build an effective compassion practice, and combines knowledge, theory and practical exercises.
To accompany the launch, Chris explains how therapists and counselors can work most effectively with this collection, and help their clients get the greatest benefit from it. The audio collection is available to all Complete and Advanced members at no additional charge.
Who can benefit from this collection – do clients need experience of Compassion Focused Therapy?
Everyone can use it. This audio collection is for anyone who wants to learn more about CFT and how to cultivate self-compassion. It’s been designed as a comprehensive course in the building blocks of Compassion Focused Therapy and learning skills for self-compassion. All the guidance, detail, and explanation that people need is contained within the audio tracks, so they can work with it as a stand-alone resource, or it can be integrated into a client’s ongoing therapy.
The course starts with an introduction to CFT, then gradually builds up knowledge and introduces different ideas, skills, and practical exercises. You can find out more about the course structure here.
How can therapists use the collection most effectively?
Slow down. One of the most important things is for therapists to encourage clients to take their time. Clients may feel the urge to keep jumping to the next bit or try out a different practice, but there’s wisdom in taking it in, allowing it to play through your mind, and thinking about what you’ve just learnt or just listened to. They can benefit from listening to the guidance and practicing the exercise again. We find that one section a week is ideal.
You don’t get fit by going to the gym once. We don’t want clients just to practice an exercise once and then move on. For this audio to have the most impact it’s important for them to establish a recurring practice. Just as they wouldn’t get fit from going to the gym only once, they’ll need to keep listening and doing the exercises regularly over time for this audio pack to be most effective.
To help you and your clients keep track of how many times they have practiced each track, you can use this Developing Self-Compassion Practice Record. Which works as a companion resource to the audio collection.
Ask clients what they notice. Clients might notice different things in an audio track each time they listen to it. Ask them to pay attention to what they notice: what appears in their mind, which parts are helpful, and which bits are difficult. Why might that be? These questions help them see that they learn far more by going through this a number of times, and by taking time for it to embed and stretch their understanding before moving on.
Give clients enough time for each element to land before moving on to the next section. That’s a major factor in getting the most benefit from this collection.
What is the hardest part of cultivating self-compassion?
Unfamiliarity and uncertainty often lead to a lack of confidence. I could go on a training course to learn a new therapy, be really inspired by the trainer, and make lots of notes. Later, when I see my client and I can’t remember it all; I’m unsure how certain points should come across, or how best to communicate a specific point. My notes don’t bring back the same memory of the experience I had in the course, so they’re not as effective. It’s the same when a client is learning new skills for self-compassion. It’s all unfamiliar, so when they’ve left a session and are trying to practice elements themselves or remember of a certain point, it can be really hard. It’s especially difficult if the concept of self-compassion is a very new way of thinking for them.
Build confidence through practice
The great thing about this audio collection is that clients can refer back to it whenever they need to. They will develop these skills and gain confidence through repetition and practice. That’s why it’s important for them to have continued access to all of the audio in this pack, which they can keep returning to as they develop their knowledge, experience and skills.
Why do you think this course works best as an audio collection?
I think that audio is the most accessible and engaging way of approaching this topic. When you’re reading something, I often find that while you can sometimes connect with the author, you’re often a little bit disconnected. When you physically hear somebody speaking, you can become more familiar with them: even a small stress in the tone of their voice, or the way they talk, can bring a whole new dimension to an exercise.
When clients are listening to the audio, they’re getting a more direct experience of being guided, almost like their therapist is there. I’ve published workbooks before and there’s definitely value in those, but when it comes to practicing the exercises yourself, it’s very difficult when reading to take it in and really connect with it. For me, the audio feels a lot more personal and real, so I think it’s really well suited to this type skills development.
This audio collection is easy to use at any time. You can listen to it while you’re doing other things, while walking from your car to your workplace, or while you’re on the bus. It’s really useful to be constantly coming back to these exercises and learning from them, in a way which is much harder to do with written material. Many of us are already familiar with this: a podcast, for example, allows you to take in and learn new information in a way that feels less tiring than reading a book or a paper on the same topic. The audio format makes for a much gentler and more accessible introduction to CFT.
Do clients need to work through the course in the specific order or can they pick and choose?
Good question! Some people might find that the exercises make more sense to them in a different order, and that’s fine. Ultimately, I would suggest that clients first listen to it all in the way it’s been designed, then extract and pick out the bits which resonate with them the most. Once they’ve done that and are familiar with it, they can start focusing on how it works best for them, and how best they can put it into action.
Having said that, this audio collection builds in stages; it starts generic, then moves into specific ideas, practices, and exercises. There’s a logical progression to it in which we would recommend when introducing the listener to key aspects of Compassionate Mind Training.