Dr Paul Gilbert developed Compassion Focused Therapy as he found there was a head-heart lag, i.e. clients would say to him “I know I am I a good person, but I just don’t feel it”. There is now a growing body of evidence that shows how CFT can help people with psychological issues. Compassion Focused Therapy helps us to understand how the human brain has evolved whereby we have a tendency to focus on the negative, as the brain’s basic function is to focus on threat and self-protection. As humans we can imagine, predict and worry about what has happened in the past and what may happen in the future. Once we start thinking negatively, we can then think – “why do I always think like this”, which usually makes us overthink more.

This approach helps us to cultivate a compassionate version of ourselves that allows us to see the wisdom of how we have evolved and a commitment to take responsibility to respond and behave in a warmer and supportive manner to ourselves and others. We do this by understanding the function of shame and the self-critic. First, we prepare the body to support our mind by learning a calming rhythm breathing and the use of compassionate imagery. The self-critic gets stronger when we feel doubt/uncertainty (anxiety) and when we feel inadequate and worthless (depression). The self-critic can underpin many issues including trauma and eating disorder.

This is a 10 minute video where Dr Paul Gilbert is interviewed on how we can learn to talk nicely to ourselves: