“It was the many conversations I’ve had over the past 30 years with depressed, anxious, lost and lonely people that convinced me that the one core element they seemed to lack was the ability to be kind, gentle, warm and compassionate with themselves.”
Paul A. Gilbert
CFT teaches clients to cultivate skills in compassion and self-compassion, which can help regulate mood and lead to feelings of safety, self-acceptance, and comfort.
CFT has been shown to really help in times of struggle by addressing patterns of shame and self-criticism, which can significantly contribute to mental health issues.
Research suggests that humans have at least three different emotional regulationsystems: a threat and self-protection system, which generates anger, disgust, or fear to protect us; a drive and excitement system, which motivates us to seek outside resources like mates, food, and status; and a soothing and social safety system, which is activated when we feel peaceful and content enough that we are no longer compelled to seek outside resources.
Mental illness can result, in part, from an imbalance between these three systems. People high in shame and self-criticism may not have had enough stimulation of their soothing system early in life, and too much stimulation of their threat system. As a result, they can struggle to be kind to themselves or feel kindness from others. There are many barriers to self-compassion: the feeling that we don't deserve it or that we are letting ourselves off the hook. CFT works in helping to bring some balance to the time we spend in each of these systems and looks at ways in which we can cultivate a sense of calm in our brains.
"CFT asks us to consider the version of our "self" we want to be. Using a range of practices, we discover how to move our attention and develop our thoughts, feelings and behaviours to strengthen this version of ourselves" (Mary Welford)