“Compassion is the courage to descend into the reality of human experience”
– Professor Paul Gilbert
Compassion Focused Therapy
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) was founded by the British psychologist, Professor Paul Gilbert. It is an approach to mental health and well-being that tries to understand how and why our brains work the way they do. CFT is an evolution-informed approach, which means that it is particularly interested in how human brains and minds have evolved over time to perform certain jobs for us, such as protecting us from danger and avoiding harm.
If we are struggling with our mental health, the CFT approach would be to try and understand which patterns (and processes) are being activated and why. Is my mind in a threat-protection mode right now? If so, what are the threats that I’m protecting myself from?
CFT tries to understand the purpose of these experiences and emotional states using the framework of human evolution. Therefore, instead of asking the question “What has gone wrong in my brain?”, CFT is more interested in asking questions like “Why is my brain responding to this situation in this way? Which evolved systems are being activated? What is the purpose of activating these systems?”