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“Self-compassion entails being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical; perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as isolating; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness rather than over-identifying with them” (Neff, Kirkpatrick, & Rude, 2007). Gilbert’s evolutionary account of compassion argues that the self-soothing qualities of self-compassion allow for more effective affect regulation, greater capacity for intimacy, and more adaptive behavior (Gilbert, 1989, 2005). Many individuals who have experienced neglect or abuse struggle to offer compassion toward themselves and struggle with shame and self-criticism as a result. Within compassion-focused therapy (CFT) techniques for fostering and developing self-compassion are referred to as compassionate mind training (CMT). Read more
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Resource type


Therapy tool

Assertive Communication

Communicating and acting assertively is an interpersonal skill that helps people to maintain healthy relationships, resolve interpersonal conflict, an ...

Information Handout

Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) automatically regulates the function of body systems outside of voluntary control. The Autonomic Nervous System han ...

Information Handout

Barriers Abusers Overcome In Order To Abuse

Individuals who have experienced abuse often focus on their own actions (or inactions) and blame themselves for their own abuse. This client informati ...

Information Handout

CFT Compassion Formulation

Within CFT, two methods are commonly used for understanding a client’s difficulties. The threat-focused formulation takes a longitudinal approach, ...


Coercive Methods For Enforcing Compliance

Individuals who have experienced abuse often focus on their own actions (or inactions) and blame themselves for their own abuse. This client informati ...


Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Low Self-Esteem (Fennell, 1997)

Low self-esteem is characterized as a negative sense of the self and co-occurs with many other mental health problems. Although not formally represent ...

Information Handout

Compassionate Thought Challenging Record

Thought challenging records are commonly used in CBT to help people to evaluate their negative automatic thoughts for accuracy and bias. This Compassi ...


Gratitude Journal

Cultivating gratitude is an evidence-based positive psychology technique. This information handout describes reasons to cultivate a grateful attitude ...


Grounding Techniques Menu

Dissociation can be described as a shift of a person’s attention away from the present moment. When working with traumatized clients, this shift oft ...

Information Handout

Motivational Systems (Emotional Regulation Systems)

At the heart of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) is an evolutionary model of human motivational systems. Developed by Paul Gilbert it is a helpful len ...

Information Handout

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive relaxation training originated in the 1930’s as a treatment for tension and anxiety. Edmund Jacobsen developed a systematic and lengthy ...


Progressive Muscle Relaxation (Audio)

The Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise guides the listener through a sequence in which muscle groups are tensed and relaxed. ...


Progressive Muscle Relaxation (Edition 1)

Muscle tension is one reaction to stress and anxiety. This exercise includes instructions for Progressive Muscle Relaxation, a technique for promoting ...


Relaxed Breathing

Practising Relaxed Breathing serves to reduce physiological arousal and can be an excellent grounding technique. This client information handout descr ...


Responses To Threat: Freeze, Appease, Flight, Fight

Human beings are programmed to respond automatically in a variety of ways to a threat including freezing, escaping, and dissociation. Traumatized indi ...

Information Handout

Case Conceptualization / Case Formulation

  • Formulation in Compassion Focused Therapy archived copy
  • Training our minds in, with, and for compassion: an introduction to concepts and compassion-focused exercises archived copy


Treatment guides

  • Training our minds in, with, and for compassion: an introduction to concepts and compassion-focused exercises archived copy
  • The ‘Compassionate Friend’ group: A 3 session group designed for use in a ward environment  download archived copy
  • The ‘Compassionate Friend’ group facilitators manual  download

Exercises, Worksheets & Workbooks

Self-Help Programmes

Developing self-compassion


  • Paul Gilbert – Meng Wu Lecture (Introductory)
  • Paul Gilbert – CFT Workshop at CCARE (part 1)
  • Paul Gilbert – CFT Workshop at CCARE (part 2)
  • Paul Gilbert – CFT Workshop at CCARE (part 3)
  • Paul Gilbert – CFT Workshop at CCARE (part 4)
  • Paul Gilbert – DCP Lecture 2015 – Tragedies of the human mind

Recommended Reading

  • Gilbert, P. (2009). Introducing compassion focused therapy. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 15, 199-208  download archived copy
  • Compassion Focused Therapy – Procedure Outline  download
  • Goss, K., & Allan, S. (2010). Compassion focused therapy for eating disorders. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy3(2), 141-158  download archived copy


  • Gilbert, P. (1989). Human nature and suffering. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Gilbert, P. (2005). Compassion and cruelty: A biopsychosocial approach. In P. Gilbert (Ed.), Compassion: Conceptualisations, research and use in psychotherapy(pp. 9–74). New York: Routledge
  • Neff, K. D., Kirkpatrick, K. L., & Rude, S. S. (2007). Self-compassion and adaptive psychological functioning. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(1), 139–154.