Training Description & Topics


Originally pioneered by Paul Gilbert in the UK, compassion focused therapy (CFT) is an integrated, multi-modal approach to treatment that draws from evolutionary, social, developmental, and Buddhist psychology as well as neuroscience. CFT arose from an array of observations, including that people with high levels of shame and self-criticism can have enormous difficulty in being kind or compassionate toward others and even towards themselves (Gilbert, 2009). Further, practitioners realized that shame and self-criticism often result from trauma and adverse childhood experiences. CFT therefore dovetails effectively with other forms of trauma-informed care.

CFT is gaining currency in forensic practice and can be helpful in working with people who have committed acts of violence. Research has identified compassion, on its own, as an important element of treatment in psychotherapy and in well-known approaches such as motivational interviewing. CFT goes beyond other established approaches through its bio-psycho-social theoretical underpinnings and its focus on building the client’s capacity for compassion. 

This training on the forensic application of CFT begins with a compassionate understanding of the origins of harmful behavior. It explores how one task of forensic practice is helping clients reimagine their sense of guilt within the context of compassionate motivations (for example, feeling bad about one’s actions rather than about one’s self and building on one’s inherent motivation to live amicably within society). The training next addresses the application of CFT to those whose crimes cause significant harm to others. It guides professionals in considering a trauma-informed approach to case formulation and draws on a compassionate understanding of the difficulties that can emerge from the survival strategies that human beings deploy under extreme adversity. Finally, the training addresses the importance of self-compassion for professional self-care in order to facilitate a compassionate (and sustainable) context for treatment

This workshop employs didactic learning as well as group interaction and is open to all audiences.

Topics to be discussed:
1) Human nature and human harmfulness
2) Theoretical foundations of CFT
3) Key aspects of CFT
4) Framework for forensic CFT
5) Outcomes of CFT