Welcome to the Compassionate Mind Foundation

Set up in 2006 the Foundation aims to promote wellbeing through the scientific understanding and application of compassion. 

An Introduction to the Foundation together with the Aims and Objectives are given here...




The 3rd International Conference On Compassion Focused Therapy
will be held in Birmingham from 26th - 28th November 2014.

Information about the Annual Conference is now available here...

Wednesday 26th November 2014

Workshop 1

A one day workshop on children, trauma & compassion
Presented by Brooke Dodson-Lavelle and Dr. Yotam Heineberg

   More info...
Brooke Dodson-Lavelle Yotam Heineberg

Morning session 3 hours – Overview of Children’s post traumatic Responses (PTR) and school based programs for traumatized and non-traumatized children, followed by experiential exercises.

Many school children experience adverse childhood events and Post Traumatic Responses (PTR) that usually manifest more broadly than PTSD, and are often insufficiently addressed in educational settings.  These experiences impact children’s medical health, school performance, and if untreated, also support and sustain cycles of violence and aggression.  There is a need, therefore, for scalable school based programs that effectively address these issues. In this workshop we will offer an overview of PTR and present the theory and pedagogy of two school-based models designed to provide support for both traumatized and non-traumatized children.  The first, ERASE-Stress and ERASE-Stress Pro-Social, developed by Dr. Rony Berger, is a trauma-focused skills training model which has been implemented with over 60,000 children worldwide in high stress settings.  The second, A Call to Care, developed by Brooke Dodson-Lavelle and the Mind and Life Institute, is a contemplative-
based program designed to promote compassion through fostering secure and nurturing relationships.  Several skills and contemplative-based exercises will be offered. 

Afternoon session 3 hours - Children's fears of attachment and its relation
to fears of compassion; an overview followed by experiential exercises examples.
This session will offer an overview of children’s attachment difficulties, with particular attention to fears of attachment and their relevance to fears of receiving, extending, or developing self-compassion. Opportunities to explore personal experience around fears of compassion will be offered. This will be done in ways that invite reflection upon both children’s and adults’ perspectives.  Structured self-query processes will be introduced.  This will be followed by contemplative practices aimed at identifying and addressing fears and blocks to compassion. The experiential portion will be an integration of skills training and contemplative practices to locate and remove blocks to compassion, in three directions.   


Brooke Dodson-Lavelle, Senior Program Officer

Brooke is leading Mind and Life Institute’s new Ethics, Education, and Human Development Initiative. Her work focuses on the confluence of Buddhist contemplative theory and cognitive science, as well as the cultural contexts that shape the transmission, reception, and secularization of Buddhist contemplative practices in America. Brooke was lead instructor for several studies examining the efficacy of Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) at Emory University, and has helped to develop and adapt CBCT for schoolchildren as well as adolescents in Atlanta’s foster care system. She served as the associate training director of the CBCT Teacher Training Program, which she co-developed. Brooke also acted as the program coordinator for the Emory-Tibet Partnership and from 2009 to 2011 co-led the Emory Tibetan Mind/Body Sciences Summer Study Abroad program in Dharamsala, India.

Prior to attending Emory, where she is completing her PhD in the graduate division of religion, she earned her bachelor’s degree in religion and psychology at Barnard College and her master’s degree in religion at Columbia University. While at Columbia, she worked as a research coordinator for the Columbia Integrative Medicine Program, where she developed and taught Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs for a variety of clinical populations.

Dr. Yotam Heineberg
Palo Alto University, PGSP-Stanford Consortium, Clinical Faculty

Applied Psychological Interventions, Director.
Center for Compassion and Altruism, Research and Education, Stanford University .  Dr Heineberg is a clinical faculty supervisor for doctoral students in training and lecturer for Palo Alto University, at the PGSP-Stanford Consortium. At PAU he offers clinical training on Compassion Focused Therapy, having recently launched PAU's Compassion Training Initiative. He also acts as Applied Psychological Interventions director at CCARE, Stanford. His work is informed by his training in Compassion Focused Therapy and evidence based principles to explore new routes towards healing via compassion practices. Dr. Heineberg’s passion has been finding effective high scale methods for healing the cycle of violence with compassion, evidenced by his contributions to ERASE-Stress, and ERASE-Stress Pro Social, a school based program developed by Dr. Rony Berger, in collaboration with Dr. Philip Zimbardo. Dr. Heineberg is also passionate about scalable technology based interventions to increase wellbeing and compassion. He is collaborating on several projects with Dr. Dan Martin, the Charter for Compassion's science director, with the intention of testing out new methods, and implementing with broad non-clinical populations. Dr. Heineberg earned his undergraduate degree in psychology and comparative literature at Tel Aviv University. He completed his doctorate in clinical psychology at the PGSP-Stanford consortium focusing on the cycle of violence, trauma and aggression, and applied scalable interventions to increase psychological wellbeing, and compassion for self and others. He completed his post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford with CCARE, where he has focused his energy on developing compassion interventions, as well as leading the Stanford Compassion In Action student volunteer initiative in East Palo Alto.

Workshop 2

Developing compassionate resilience as part of a phased approach to treating complex PTSD: group session outline
Presented by Dr Deborah Lee

   More info...


Since 2005 NICE has recommended a trauma focused CBT (Ehlers et al, 2005) approach to treating PTSD. The evidence base is strong and convincing, especially for Type I traumatic events, even when multiply experienced. Since 2005 much debate has arisen in clinical settings about best practice in treating complex PTSD, whilst retaining fidelity to the CBT model and we now see important and solid evidence emerging that phased based approaches are effective with complex PTSD presentations (Cloitre, 2012).  Most evidence based practice suggests that phase 1 develops stabilisation, phase 2 develops psychological life skills and phase 3 attends to trauma memory work.

The therapeutic work presented in this talk can be considered as part of phase 2 as compassionate resilience enhances affect regulation, interpersonal functioning, problem solving and the ability to hold trauma memories with a caring compassionate mind.   Compassionate resilience enhances feelings of self- soothing and safeness in these memories and reduces self -critical maintenance cycles by developing compassionate self- talk.  It helps the development of the capacity to self soothe to those who feel deeply shamed about who they are and what they have been through.

The workshops will present the 12 session group outline used by Berkshire Traumatic Stress Service to develop compassionate resilience as part of a phased based approach to treating complex PTSD.

Workshop outcomes:

- Understand the need for phased based approach in treating complex PTSD
- Understand the importance of affect regulation in the treatment of PTSD
- Have knowledge of compassionate resilience and how to develop it in therapy
- Have knowledge of the outline of the 12 session group plan to deliver compassionate resilience.
- Have knowledge of how CFT enhances trauma focused CBT.

Key references
Cloitre, M. et. al., (2010). Treatment for PTSD Related to Childhood Abuse: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Am J Psychiatry 2010;167:915-924.

Ehlers, A., Clark, D.M., McManus, F. & Fennell, M (2005) Cognitive therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: development and evaluation. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 43, pp 413-431

Lee, D.A (2012). The compassionate mind approach to recovering from trauma, using compassion focussed therapy. Constable & Robinson. London


Dr Deborah Lee is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist,  Head of Berkshire Traumatic Stress Service and South Central Veterans Service. She is also an honorary Senior Lecturer at University College London.  She is a board member of the Compassionate Mind Foundation and author of The compassionate mind approach to recovering from trauma, using compassion focussed therapy.

Dr Lee has worked in the field of trauma for 20 years and specialises in the treatment of PTSD and complex Trauma.  Her particular area of clinical and research interest is in shame based PTSD and self-criticism. She has developed the use of compassion based treatments including the use of compassionate imagery in shame based flashbacks to enhance clinical practice in this field. She has pioneered the use of developing compassionate resilience as part of a phase based treatment approach to complex PTSD. She has widely contributed to the dissemination of her clinical knowledge through writing and delivering over 150 clinical workshops and talks in North America and Europe.

Workshop 3

A brief outline of the use of Compassion Focused Therapy in groups
Presented by Professor Paul Gilbert, Kate Lucre and Tobyn Bell

    More info...
Paul Gilbert Kate Lucre Tobyn Bell


This workshop will give a brief outline of compassion focused therapy in groups.

The first part of the workshop will offer an overview of the important issues of CFT in groups. It will then reflect on a session by session approach of working with complex people with 'borderline personality disorder' on a locked unit. Key issues and themes will be highlighted.

The second part of the workshop will be interactive, engaging with people’s CFT experiences of working with groups which will provide opportunities for people to share their experiences and learn from each other.


Paul Gilbert

Paul Gilbert is the founder and president of the Compassionate Mind Foundation and lives and works in Derbyshire, UK.  Along with a wide range of publications he authored the seminal book The Compassionate Mind, is an internationally recognised researcher, speaker and trainer.  Paul received an OBE for his contribution to improving mental health in the 2011 New Years honors list.

Tobyn Bell

A psychotherapist working in primary care in Greater Manchester, Tobyn specialises in CFT and is part of the training executive for the Compassionate Mind Foundation. He has experience in creating and facilitating compassion-focused groups for clients with complex presentations.

Kate Lucre

Kate Lucre is a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist and Deputy Service Manager for the Specialist Psychotherapies Service in Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust.

She has been developing CFT for people with personality disorder and complex trauma for a number of years and has recently published pilot data on a group work model. This model includes combining CFT with psychodrama techniques and practices.

Kate has recently begun delivering the introductory training in CFT for the Foundation in the UK.     

Workshop 4

Compassion Focused Therapy for Psychosis
Presented by Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland, Dr Chris Irons and Eleanor Longden

    More info...
Charlie Heriot-Maitland Chris Irons Eleanor Longden


Recent studies provide support for a compassion-focused model in the recovery process in psychosis (Gumley et al 2010; Braehler et al, 2013). Psychosis is characterised by high threat processing (Freeman, 2002; Gumley et al, 2010). There are two aspects to this threat. One is posed by the potential threat of others through the process of shaming, stigmatising, excluding, but also from the (potential) persecution from others. The second source of threat is an internal one, generated by the negative, critical and hostile content of voices and self-evaluation (Birchwood et al. 2000, 2004, 2006; Gilbert et al., 2001). In addition, individuals can also suffer difficulties with social processing, and in particular mentalising, and problems with mentalisation can be one of the reasons that individuals can experience others is threatening.

Compassion focused therapy was specifically developed for helping individuals with high levels of shame and internal self-criticism, and therefore is potentially ideally suited for these kinds of difficulties. One of its core interventions is to help people move out of the social mentalities of social ranking that focuses attention and cognition on the (potential harmful) power of others, and activate cooperative caring and affiliative processes to self and others. Consequently, CFT provides contexts, practices and insights that facilitate the development of being open to compassion from others (and addressing fears of experiencing compassion –especially fears of closeness), being compassionate to others (including developing mentalising) and developing internal compassion for self and that includes voices (and addresses fears of doing so). Since psychosis can involve a major loss to the sense of self-identity, with an increased experience of isolation andseparateness from others, issues of loneliness and grief can play a prominent role in blocking recovery in psychosis.

This workshop will introduce participants to the evolutionary based CFT model of psychosis, and how to orientate their interventions for people with psychosis towards the process of developing the three dimensions of compassion. Particular attention will be given to the relationship between affiliative processing and threat processing.

Key Learning Objectives:

Participants will be able to:

  • Understand the evolutionary and CFT model of psychosis
  • Understand the CFT model of compassion, and its relevance for people with psychosis
  • Help clients to develop a compassionate self, which becomes a secure base from which to explore, engage with, and integrate distressing experiences and states
  • Consider the role of trauma and the re-scripting of trauma memories
  • Help clients initiate dialogue between compassionate self and multiple other selves/voices (e.g. using imagery, chair work, and letter writing)

Birchwood, M., Gilbert, P., Gilbert, J., Trower, P., Meaden, A., Hay, J., Murray, E., & Miles, J.N.V.  (2004) Do interpersonal schema influence the relationship with the dominant ‘voice’ in schizophrenia? A comparison of three models. Psychological Medicine,  34, 1571-1580

Birchwood, M., Meaden, A., Trower, P., Gilbert, P., & Plaistow, J.  (2000).  The power and omnipotence of voices.  Subordination and entrapment by voices and significant others. Psychological Medicine. 30, 337-344.

Birchwood, M,. Trower, P., Brunet, K., Gilbert, P., Iqbal, Z., & Jackson, C (2006). Social anxiety and the shame of psychosis. A study in first episode psychosis. Behaviour Therapy and Research, 45,  1026-1037.

Braehler, C., Gumley, A.I., Harper, J. et al. (2013). Exploring change processes in compassion focused therapy in psychosis: results of a feasibility randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 52(2), 199-214.

Gilbert, P., Birchwood, M. Gilbert, J., Trower, P., Hay, J., Murray, B., Meaden, A Olsen, K., & Miles, J.N.V. (2001). An exploration of evolved mental mechanisms for dominant and subordinate behaviour in relation to auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia and critical thoughts in depression. Psychological Medicine  31, 1117-1127.

Gumley, A., Braehler, C., Laithwaite, H. et al. (2010). A compassion focussed model of recovery after psychosis. International Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 3(2), 186-201.

Mayhew, S. & Gilbert, P. (2008). Compassionate mind training with people who hear malevolent voices: A case series report. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 15, 113-138.


Charlie Heriot-Maitland

Charlie Heriot-Maitland is a clinical psychologist who provides CFT for people with psychosis in London NHS services and runs CFT training for various staff groups. He is also researching the application of CFT in psychosis for an MRC Fellowship award at King’s College London.

Chris Irons

Chris Irons is a Clinical Psychologist working in London. He is interested in the application of CFT within community and inpatient mental health settings. He runs training in CFT in both the UK and internationally, and leads the London & South East CFT Special Interest Group (SIG).

Eleanor Longden

Eleanor Longden is a postgraduate researcher with lived experience of psychosis who has lectured internationally on recovery-orientated approaches to psychosis, including TED and WHO events. She coordinates the research committee of Intervoice.

Workshop 5

Compassion Focused Therapy in Practice
Presented by Dr Mary Welford

   More info...


Compassion Focused Therapy was developed by Professor Paul Gilbert to work with people who are prone to shame and self-criticism and who have difficulties with emotional regulation. It is an integrated, multi-modal approach which draws from neuroscience and from evolutionary, social, developmental and Buddhist psychology.

CFT involves psycho education and exercises which aim to develop a more compassionate approach to oneself, and feelings of warmth, safeness and soothing in one’s relationships with others.

The workshop will be of interest to counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists who are unfamiliar with Compassion Focused approaches and to clinicians trained in CFT who would like to update or refresh their knowledge and practice.

In addition to a brief introduction to the model, the material covered will include a range of helpful metaphors and examples to assist clinicians and clients, common blocks in relation to developing self-compassion, ideas around how one may work to overcome these and how to integrate self-compassion into everyday lives and make therapeutic work ‘stick’.

Dr Mary Welford is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist working in the South West of England, where she is the Clinical Director and Lead for Therapy Services at Psychology Associates in Saltash, Cornwall. Mary is a founding member and Chair of the Compassionate Mind Foundation and has liaised with Professor Paul Gilbert over many years. Working with a range of people on an individual and group basis, Mary is particularly interested in the application of Compassion Focused Therapy across the spectrum of human experiences, from anxiety and depression to psychosis and personality difficulties. She is the author of “The Compassionate Mind Approach to Building Your Self Confidence”. Mary is also leading an initiative looking at compassion in education settings.

Workshop 6

The Compassionate Mind Approach for Mothers and Babies:
Using Compassion Focused Therapy to enhance mood, confidence and bonding
Presented by Michelle Cree

   More info...


If we look at the images on television and in newspapers of smiling new mothers and their contented babies we would imagine that having a baby is a universally joyful event.  Of course for many it is.  However there are many circumstances, particularly in our modern life, which can come together to make it a very difficult time.  Tragically women can come to blame themselves for struggling after having a baby, believing that it due to some failing within her.

This workshop is aimed at practitioners working with women in the early postnatal years where there may be anxiety, depression or bonding difficulties.  It aims to consider some of the many factors that can come together to make this such a difficult time including;

  • The current way of how we live our lives compared to what we have evolved to need to best mother
  • our difficult evolved brain
  • brain changes that occur during pregnancy and early motherhood
  • experiences that have already shaped us

Although this may be a difficult time it is also a unique time which offers a particular window of opportunity for creating potentially profound changes for both the mother and the baby.  The Compassionate Mind Approach builds upon the innate changes in the soothing/attachment system and the motivation to mother this baby as well as possible.

The key objectives of the workshop are to:

  • Understand the factors that can come together to create these difficulties after having a baby.
  • How to actively build the Compassionate Mind in both the mother and the baby using particular techniques including compassionate attention, imagery, thinking, and behaviour, some of which we will experience for ourselves during the workshop.


Michelle works as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist for the Derby Perinatal Mental Health Service, which provides inpatient and community care for mothers suffering from a severe mental illness in the late stages of pregnancy and up to one year postnatal. She provides both individual and group therapy using Compassion Focused Therapy. She has published a paper outlining the use of Compassionate Mind Training with Perinatal distress in a special edition of the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy in 2010. 

Michelle is also a Compassionate Mind Foundation board member and trainer and has trained a diverse range of individuals and professional groups in CFT across the country. She is a supervisor for the Postgraduate Certificate in Compassion Focused Therapy at the University of Derby.

Michelle has a contract to provide training in the Compassionate Minds Approach for the Family Nurse Partnership, an intensive health visiting service being provided nationally for first time mothers aged nineteen and under. She is in the process of completing a book in the “Compassionate Mind Approaches to…” series, for mothers suffering from postnatal depression and baby bonding difficulties. She has also developed a 12 week Compassionate Mind course for staff in Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.




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Paul Gilbert gives a talk to David Nicolson, Chief Exec of NHS England, which he described as 'a very thoughtful and stimulating experience. It made me particularly reflect on the continuing debate about whistleblowing'. Read more...

in 2011 a group of international researchers and practitioners in compassion came together in Berlin under the leadership of Tania Singer with the aim of developing an easily and freely available compassionate resource which would have many contributors and a variety of practices. The compassion mind foundation contributed to this and I do hope you find it useful. Link to site...

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All the workshops being run in 2014 can be found here...

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A selection of new audio files by Prof Paul Gilbert can be found here...

The videos of the following speakers from the 2013 Annual Conference are here Paul Gilbert, David Veale, Andrew Gumley, Russell Kolts, Dennis Tirch, Fiona Ashworth, Michelle Cree and Mary Keogh

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