2nd International Conference On Compassion Focused Therapy

Growing Points in Compassion Focused Therapy

Date: 6th December 2013
Venue: Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SN

Conference Programme

8.30 - 9.20


9.20 - 9.30

Welcome address given by Dr Mary Welford Chair of Compassionate Mind Foundation.

9.30 - 10.15

Prof Paul Gilbert OBE
Distinguishing between the psychology of giving and the  psychology of receiving compassion: New directions in compassion focussed therapy
   More info...

This talk will offer a brief overview of CFT and then address a common confusion - that the psychology underpinning the giving of compassion and receiving compassion are the same. In fact, we can be motivated to become compassionate through many routes such as sadness for the other, anger for injustice to the other, fear of injury to the other. These are all part of an evolved care-giving system that is distress sensitive. Caring is a different psychology to loving and indeed the easiest form of compassionate caring is to those we love, the most difficult to those we don't! The biological systems that are activated in the reception of care and compassion however are linked to soothing and ability to heal, repair and reduce threat arousal typically mediated through parasympathetic and oxytocin systems. Within the self-compassion the giving and receiving dynamic is complex.

Learning points
Participants will:

  • learn of the overlap in differences between giving and receiving
  • explore the implications for psychological therapy
  • understand different types of motivation behind giving such as submissive compassion

Professor Paul Gilbert FBPsS
Mental Health Research Unit,
Kingsway Hospital,
Derby DE22 3LZ, U.K.

10.15 - 11.00

Dr David Veale
A new therapeutic community: development of a Compassion Focused and Contextual Behavioural Environment
   More info...

What are the therapeutic changes and processes that occur within a community context? How can and do communities enable therapeutic change? I will briefly review the historical development of group psychodynamic therapeutic communities and critically evaluate their current theory, practice and outcomes. I will conclude that current therapeutic community practice is not sufficiently evidence-based and may not be maximising the potential therapeutic value of a community. At times it may be harmful. Compassion focused therapy and social learning theory offer new approaches for a therapeutic community, involving an understanding of the role, nature and complexities of compassionate and affiliative relationships from staff and members, behavioural change guided by learning theory, a clear formulation based on threat-derived safety strategies, goal setting and positive reinforcement. Such a community offers potential therapeutic advantages over individual outpatient therapy for certain client groups and should be investigated further in controlled trials.

Learning points
Participants will

  • learn of the history of therapeutic communities
  • how and why the model of compassion focused therapy is ideally suited for therapeutic communities
  • insights into current experiences of using compassion focused therapy as a model for developing a therapeutic community for OCD

Dr David Veale,
Visiting Senior Lecturer and Consultant Psychiatrist
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
and The Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London

11.00 - 11.30


11.30 - 12.15

Prof Andrew Gumley
So you think you're funny? Developing an attachment based understanding of compassion and its assessments.
    More info...

Have you ever been asked if you're funny? We all know the best informant to answer such questions is not always the person themselves. Why is this and what does it matter? There is a long history to this particular debate that has emerged in the attachment literature with different approaches and contrasting epistemologies to the role of self report and narrative based methods for the assessment of attachment security. This methodological debate has far reaching clinical and research implications for how attachment theory is understood and integrated into clinical models. One can think of clinical situations where a client describes themselves as being self-compassionate but later belies this self description by describing a situation where feelings of hateful self-criticism and shame unfold. This apparent contradiction, between semantic and episodic memory, is not unusual when considered in the light of attachment theory. Based on this clinical and theoretical observation, our group have developed a novel methodology for exploring the measurement of compassion derived from the coding of individuals narratives. I will show how this measurement approach is sensitive to the effects of CFT and is also associated with the unfolding of mentalisation reflected in individual’s understandings of their own minds, the minds of others and the use of mental states to solve interpersonal problems. I will also describe the further development of the Experiences of Compassion Interview as a method to engage clients in the exploration of compassion from self to others, others to self and self to self. This approach to the measurement of compassion provides a closer rooting in Attachment Theory which in turn enables the further elaboration of clinical methods to facilitate the experience of compassion.

Learning objectives
Participants will gain greater insight into:

  • the differences between implicit and explicit ways of assessing compassion
  • the value of developing new measures for implicit assessments of compassion and the problems of relying on self report scales
  • understand the concept of narrative coherence.

Professor Andrew Gumley
Professor of Psychological Therapy
Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing
Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist ESTEEM Glasgow
West of Scotland Clinical Lead Scottish Mental Health Research Network
Editor for Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
Twitter: @andygumley

12.15 - 1.00

Dr Fiona Ashworth
An Exploration of Compassion Focused Therapy after Acquired Brain Injury: Understanding Positive Change
   More info...

People with acquired brain injuries (ABI) frequently experience psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression, which can be underpinned and maintained by high self-criticism and shame alongside an inability to self-soothe. This presentation will outline a CFT study involving 12 participants within a neuropsychological rehabilitation programme who took part in a CFT psycho-education group followed by individualised CFT interventions. Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies were employed. CFT was associated with significant reductions in self-criticism, anxiety and depression and an increase in self-reassurance. Three super-ordinate themes emerged from the qualitative IPA analysis of CFT: psychological difficulties; developing trust and finding safeness and developing a new compassionate approach in light of psychological difficulties. The presentation will discuss this preliminary evidence for the role CFT can have in supporting ABI survivors to cope with psychological consequences of their injuries.

Learning objectives

  • Provide insight into the CFT interventions that can be used with ABI and what adaptations may be necessary
  • Provide insight into the potential for research in this area

Dr Fiona Ashworth
Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
Honorary Clinical Psychologist, Evelyn Community Head Injury Service, Cambridgeshire Community Services, Cambridgeshire, UK

1.00 - 2.00

Lunch. (to include poster session and special interest group meetings)

2.00 - 2.45

Dr Russell Kolts
Applying CFT in Working with Problematic Anger:  The 'True Strength' Prison Program
   More info...

The 'True Strength' program is a 12-session manual-driven group therapy that applies the principles of Compassion-Focused Therapy to problematic anger.  This treatment, which has been applied in a minimum/medium security prison setting for the past 3 years, gave rise to the approach to anger management described in The Compassionate Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger.  In this brief talk, Dr. Kolts will describe the True Strength program, discuss the experience of running the groups, and highlight critical dynamics in using CFT to work with anger in a prison setting.  He will also present data from an initial research trial which revealed that individuals in the CFT group made significant gains (compared to a wait-list control condition) in a number of questionnaire-based indices of anger expression.  Additionally, group members made significant gains in compassion and self-compassion.

2.45 - 3.30

Dr Dennis Tirch
Empowering and Enhancing Exposure Through Compassion, Acceptance and Mindfulness
   More info...

After decades of behavior therapy research, we are discovering that exposure and response prevention involves far more than the mere extinction of fear.  Building on an evolutionary model of emotion regulation via affiliative processing, this presentation will explore how compassion training can supercharge traditional methods of exposure, generating greater willingness to engage with fear and psychological flexibility.  This presentation will outline recent research on exposure, mindfulness and compassion, generating new methods for maximizing the efficacy of exposure in a range of clinical applications for anxiety.

Learning Objectives 
Participants will learn:-

  • how recent behavioral and neuroscience research is changing our understanding of how exposure works in the treatment of anxiety,
  • how a growing body of research suggests that compassion and psychological flexibility may augment the effectiveness of exposure and response prevention,   
  • how to translate this research into practical methods for bringing mindfulness, acceptance and compassion into their exposure practice.

Dennis Tirch PhD
Associate Director, American Institute for Cognitive Therapy.
Founder and Director, The Center for Mindfulness and Compassion Focused Therapy.
Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor: Weill Cornell Medical College.
Founding Past President, New York City Chapter, ACBS.
Founding Fellow and Board Member At Large, NYC-CBT Association.
Diplomate and Fellow, Academy of Cognitive Therapy.
Associate Editor:   The Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science

Author of:   The Compassionate Mind Guide To Overcoming Anxiety available at:  

3.30 - 3.45


3.45 - 4.30

Dr Michelle Cree and Mary Keogh
Personal Reflections: Developing our own Compassionate Mind as Clinicians

4.30 - 5.00

Dr Mary Welford
Closing address and winners of poster presentations announced.

Poster Submission Guidelines Click here for Poster Submission Guidelines



Registration Fees

Early Bird rate
(until 30th August 2013)

Normal rate

Student rate





Payment Method

Cheque. You can send a cheque by post to Jane Redford.

Bank Transfer. You can request our Bank account information and make a direct transfer.

Purchase Order. You can request a purchase order form from Jane Redford.

Terms & Conditions

CANCELLATIONS / SUBSTIUTIONS:  A refund, less a 20% administration fee, will be made if cancellations are received, in writing, at least 10 weeks before the conference.  We regret that any cancellation after this time cannot be refunded, and that refunds for failure to attend the conference cannot be made, but substitute delegates are welcome at any time.

CONFIRMATION OF BOOKING:  All bookings will be confirmed by email, unless stated otherwise.

WORKSHOP SLIDES:       These will be made available to you on the day of the workshop.

For all enquiries please contact Jane at compassionatemindfoundation@yahoo.co.uk