An introduction to compassion focused therapy (CPD11)

Learn how to develop a compassionate mind and help others cultivate a more compassionate relationship with themselves and their distress

This online course provides an introduction to ideas and approaches of compassion focused therapy (CFT). It was developed by Professor Paul Gilbert to work with people with severe and enduring mental health problems, many of whom had high levels of shame and self-criticism.

Research has highlighted that shame and self-criticism are transdiagnostic e.g. higher levels are found in people with depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, PTSD, and can accentuate and maintain these disorders. Moreover, high levels of self-criticism have also been found to limit the effectiveness of standard therapies.

One reason for such difficulties is that people may not have developed abilities to experience certain affiliative positive emotions such as safeness, reassurance and compassion. These individuals often come from abusive/bullying, neglectful and/or critical backgrounds. Compassion focused therapy was developed with, and for, people from such backgrounds who find it difficult to stimulate certain types of positive emotion.

Aims and learning objectives

At the end of the workshop, you will be able to:

  • explain how evolutionary concepts can be used to help us understand psychopathology and psychotherapy processes
  • distinguish different types of positive emotions e.g. activating versus soothing emotional experiences
  • describe the importance of the attachment system and its link to the experience of vulnerability
  • discriminate the two psychologies of compassion: engagement and alleviation
  • work in the affiliative soothing system by utilising compassion focused imagery and process (different ‘flows’ of compassion)
  • explore how the fears, blocks and resistances to compassion can be an important part of working in a CFT perspective
  • explain the complexities of threat processing, and our ‘multiple selves’
  • utilise compassion focusing on a variety of common therapeutic interventions

Who is this course for?

This course is suitable for any professional interested in how they can use the ideas of CFT in their work, which might include:

  • psychologist
  • psychotherapists
  • talking therapists
  • nurses
  • social workers
  • psychiatrists
  • occupational therapists
  • teachers

Course details

The next course will run on:

SessionsDateStart timeEnd time
Session 1/227 November 20249.30am5.00pm
Session 2/228 November 20249.30am5.00pm

This course will be delivered remotely using Zoom and the sessions will not be recorded.

You will need a device with a microphone and camera together with a suitably fast internet connection. Although mobile devices and tablets can be used, we recommend the use of a laptop or desktop PC for the best experience. Some devices provided by employers may have restrictions in place. Please use this Zoom test link to check your set up before booking.

You will be sent the necessary login link about a week before the course start date. Should you have any concerns about the accessibility of remote delivery please contact us to discuss how we can best help you.

During this online training, you will learn about the model underpinning CFT, rooted in evolutionary understanding of the development of the mind, neuroscience, neurophysiological and attachment research, helping to understand the nature of our three basic emotions regulation systems.

We will also explore various definitions and components of compassion, and how by developing a ‘compassionate mind’, we can help people to cultivate a more compassionate relationship with themselves and their distress.

Participants will learn about the key skills and approaches used in CFT to develop a compassionate mind, including compassion-based imagery, the development of a compassionate self and how compassion may be ‘put to work’ to engage in distress and suffering.

Workshop approaches will include:

  • didactic teaching
  • small and large group discussion
  • individual experiential practice
  • skills practice
  • video clips


“Chris Irons did an amazing job of making it feel that he was talking directly to us, including his personal experiences. The breakout sessions are also incredibly useful as we interacted with other participants. The further readings/resources provided after the course are also invaluable.”
“Practical exercises and great balance with theory and rationale behind each exercise. Chris was a very engaging presenter with lots of helpful examples.”
“Increased my understanding of the theory behind the model, but also provided practical ideas about how to implement it – I feel it helped me upskill in a short amount of time. ”

Course facilitators

Book your place today

You can book a place at any time. You’ll receive confirmation by email, and we will be in touch approximately one week before the course starts with detailed joining instructions.

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