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Compassion Focused Therapy for Psychosis

with Dr. Charlie Heriot-Maitland

October 17-18, 2019

9:30am to 5:00pm

Learning Objectives

By the end of this in-person workshop participants will be able to:

  • Describe and critique the Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) model and its relevance for people with psychosis
  • Summarize and discuss the evidence base that underpins the CFT model
  • Help their clients with psychosis to establish safeness and connection
  • Share psycho-education about evolved brains, emotion systems, and multiple selves
  • Develop CFT formulations with their clients (threat-based formulation / 3 circles formulation / function of voices)
  • Help clients cultivate/deepen their compassionate self
  • Help clients put their compassion self to work in daily life
  • Use techniques to facilitate compassionate relating to self, others, voices (eg. chair work and compassionate voice dialogue) 
  • Use the CFT model to address difficulties within therapeutic relationships
  • Implement processes to ensure personal practice improvement in the use of the CFT model for psychosis

Course Outline

Workshop participants will be introduced to the CFT model of compassion and how to apply this model in interventions for people with psychosis.  Specifically, participants will learn how to help their clients:

  • establish a bodily experience of safeness through, e.g.: i) practice of soothing rhythm breathing, which activates the parasympathetic system; ii) learning to recognise what postures and activities ground and centre the person; and iii) using mindfulness and imagery exercises.
  • create the external contexts (e.g. interpersonal and environmental) in which safeness experience can flourish.
  • develop a ‘compassionate self’, which is a part of them with the qualities required to explore and engage with their fears, voices, and dissociated parts; essentially, a self-identity that organises the mind and provides a secure base (or grounding) from which to do the therapeutic work.
  • use these compassionate qualities and skills to manage internal conflicts and to initiate supportive dialogue between voices and different emotional parts. This is achieved through techniques such as voice dialoguing / talking with voices, imagery, chair work, and letter writing.


Key Resource

Compassion for Voices

a 5-minute animated film which outlines a compassion-focused approach for relating to voices. The film was made by Charlie at King’s College London in 2015, with input from Dr Eleanor Longden, who provided the narration.