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Audio Collection: Psychology Tools For Developing Self-Compassion

Psychology Tools For Developing Self-Compassion is an audio collection which guides clients through an empirically-supported programme of compassionate mind training (CMT). This skills-development program is designed for those who struggle with self-criticism, shame, self-esteem, or any other consequences of living with a tricky brain. CMT has been demonstrated to increase how much compassion an individual has for themselves and for others, which can not only reduce psychological distress but also increase wellbeing. Developed with Dr Chris Irons, one of the main international trainers of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), the audio collection contains over five hours of exercises that your clients can practice to develop their self-compassionate motivation.

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1. About this audio collection (MP3)

2. What is compassion, why do I need it, and how might it help me? (MP3)

3. Living with a tricky brain (MP3)

4. The three systems (MP3)

5. Attention and mindfulness: the foundations of compassion (MP3)

6. The spotlight exercise (MP3)

7. Mindfulness of sounds and thoughts (MP3)

8. Mindfulness of body (MP3)

9. Mindfulness of breathing (MP3)

10. Mindful walking (MP3)

11. Developing your soothing system (MP3)

12. Body posture (MP3)

13. Facial expression (MP3)

14. Voice tone (MP3)

15. Breathing to activate your soothing system (MP3)

16. Combining soothing breathing with a soothing smell (MP3)

17. The power of imagery and memory (MP3)

18. CFT calm place (MP3)

19. A memory of feeling cared for (MP3)

20. A memory of caring for others (MP3)

21. Developing your compassionate mind (MP3)

22. 'Trying on' the qualities of compassion (MP3)

23. Being a compassionate person (MP3)

24. Developing your compassionate other (MP3)

25. Broadening your perspective (MP3)

26. Directing your compassionate mind (MP3)

27. Compassion to others (MP3)

28. Receiving compassion from your ideal other (MP3)

29. Focusing compassion on your self (MP3)

30. Compassionate letter writing (MP3)

31. Wrap-up (MP3)


Languages this resource is available in

  • English (GB)
  • English (US)

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Introduction & Theoretical Background

Audio collections from Psychology Tools can help your clients to develop the skills they need to confidently face challenges in their lives. They are designed to be flexible so that they can support work completed in therapy, operate alongside therapy, or be completed independently of it. Each collection is self-contained, supporting your clients as they learn and eventually master new skills.

The Developing Self-Compassion audio collection guides your clients through a variety of ideas and exercises derived from Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). Regular self-practice will help them to increase their compassion for self and others, which has been demonstrated to reduce psychological distress and increase wellbeing. The audio collection contains six sections:

  • Section 1: An introduction to compassion focused therapy
  • Section 2: Attention and mindfulness: the foundations of compassion
  • Section 3: Developing your soothing system
  • Section 4: The power of imagery and memory
  • Section 5: Developing your compassionate mind
  • Section 6: Directing your compassionate mind

What is compassion focused therapy?

Compassion focused therapy (CFT) is a form of psychological therapy developed by Professor Paul Gilbert and which integrates ideas from cognitive therapy, evolutionary science, attachment theory, neuroscience, and Buddhist philosophy. Within CFT, compassion is defined as “sensitivity to the suffering of self and others, with a commitment to relieve and prevent it”. CFT proposes that compassion has evolved from the mammalian caregiving system, and has subsequently harnessed additional competencies such as language, reason, and conscious awareness. The result is a human motivational system that can recognise suffering, and then take deliberate action to relieve or prevent it (Gilbert, 2014; 2020).

What problems stem from low self-compassion?

People may be low in self-compassion for many reasons including their early experiences and relationships – some clients may be fearful or distrustful of compassion from others, or from themselves. Research indicates that people who are low in self-compassion may experience a range of negative outcomes including:

  • High levels of self-criticism and negative self-talk. They may be harsh and unforgiving towards themselves when they make mistakes or when they fall short of their own expectations.
  • Trouble coping with difficult emotions. They may have trouble dealing with difficult emotions such as sadness, anger, or guilt, and may use maladaptive coping strategies such as avoidance, substance abuse, or self-harm.
  • Shame and self-stigma. They may experience feelings of shame, related to beliefs that they are flawed.
  • Difficulty in building and maintaining relationships. They may have trouble connecting with others, find it difficult to be vulnerable and open in relationships, or may also be sensitive to perceived rejection or criticism from others.
  • Other negative impacts on mental health. Low self-compassion is associated with a wide range of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and addiction.

What is compassionate mind training?

CMT is a set of techniques and practices designed to help clients who struggle with shame and self-criticism (or those who simply want to increase their sense of wellbeing) to develop a more compassionate mindset and way of relating to themselves and others. CMT is often used by CFT practitioners to support a CFT therapeutic approach, but standalone CMT courses have also been found to increase how much compassion an individual has for themselves and for others, which can not only reduce psychological distress but also increase wellbeing (Irons, Herriot-Maitland, 2020; Savari et al, 2021; Leboeuf et al, 2022).

Who developed this audio collection?

This audio collection was developed with Dr Chris Irons, a clinical psychologist, researcher, and author, and one of the main international trainers of compassion focused therapy. The founder of Balanced Minds, Chris has been working in this approach for over 20 years, and along the way has published peer-reviewed research studies, authored a number of books about CFT, and developed the Self-Compassion App.

About Psychology Tools Audio Collections

Have you ever worked with clients who, through no fault of their own, didn’t have the right mix of skills to face some of the challenging situations in their lives? Perhaps you have worked with clients who lack the right mix of interpersonal skills, or clients who lack adequate skills in emotional regulation or self-soothing.

New skills don’t just appear overnight. Your clients need help to understand which skills they lack, to be motivated to devote the time and effort needed to develop mastery, and their practice needs to be scaffolded and nurtured.

Audio collections from Psychology Tools can help your clients to develop the skills they need to confidently face challenges in their lives. They are designed to be flexible so that they can support work completed in therapy, operate in parallel to therapy, or be completed independently of therapy. Each collection is self-contained, supporting your clients as they learn and eventually master new skills.

Therapist Guidance

The Psychology Tools For Developing Self-Compassion audio collection is for anyone who wants to learn more about the ideas and practices of compassion focused therapy. It has been designed to be versatile, so it is suitable to support work with therapists who have been trained in compassion focused therapy, or to be used as a stand-alone collection of exercises. To assist the integration of the exercises into their clinical work, therapists can download the scripts for each exercise for use in-session.

In order to help your clients to get the most from this audio collection it is useful to help them to understand that it was designed to work like a training course in compassion focused therapy: when these trainings are conducted in-person they often happen over consecutive weeks so that participants have a chance to digest the information, and practice the exercises. Good advice is that this definitely isn’t the kind of album that clients should listen to all the way through in one sitting. Instead, it’s best approached in a bite-sized way –  we wouldn’t recommend listening to more than one section per week, and would suggest listening to each section a couple of times before moving on to the next one.

How can I share the audio collection with my clients?

The audio collection is downloaded as a .ZIP file which contains multiple .MP3 files. The .ZIP file will need to be ‘unzipped’ before the audio files can be accessed. Once unzipped, the audio files can be played in most media player apps. Instructions on how to unzip files for all major platforms are available at the support pages here:

The simplest way to share an audio collection with your clients is by using the Psychology Tools ‘Email a client’ function. After obtaining their consent to send them the file you can send it directly from this page by clicking ‘Send securely to my client’. Your client will receive a secure email containing a unique link, and when they click the link the .ZIP file will be downloaded onto their device.

References And Further Reading

  • Gilbert, P. (2014). The origins and nature of compassion focused therapy. British Journal of Clinical Psychology53(1), 6-41.
  • Gilbert, P. (2020). Compassion: From its evolution to a psychotherapy. Frontiers in Psychology, 3123.
  • Irons, C., & Beaumont, E. (2017). The compassionate mind workbook: A step-by-step guide to developing your compassionate self. Robinson.
  • Irons, C., & Heriot‐Maitland, C. (2021). Compassionate Mind Training: An 8‐week group for the general public. Psychology and psychotherapy: Theory, research and practice94(3), 443-463.
  • Leboeuf, I., Andreotti, E., Irons, C., Beaumont, E., & Antoine, P. (2022). A randomized controlled study of a French compassionate mind training. Mindfulness13(11), 2891-2903. 
  • Savari, Y., Mohagheghi, H., & Petrocchi, N. (2021). A preliminary investigation on the effectiveness of compassionate mind training for students with major depressive disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Mindfulness12(5), 1159-1172.