Development and Evaluation of a Compassion Focused Therapy Group for delivery in a Secondary Mental Health Service

Development and Evaluation of a Compassion Focused Therapy Group for delivery in a Secondary Mental Health Service

Project: Compassion Focused Therapy was developed by Paul Gilbert, a renowned British Clinical Psychologist. It aims to teach people to relate to their difficulties in a compassionate way, using feelings of understanding, warmth and kindness to activate the brain’s “self-soothing system”. It involves using imagery exercises to teach people to develop compassionate images in response to difficult emotions. Paul Gilbert calls this “Compassionate Mind Training”. The model is based on an evolutionary understanding of how the emotion regulation systems of the brain have developed. Three systems are described: the threat system, the drive system (resource-seeking), and the soothing system. It is thought that difficult experiences can lead to the threat system being over developed and the self-soothing system being under developed. The threat system can be further activated by self-criticism. Compassion Focused Therapy therefore aims to strengthen the self-soothing system through the compassion training. The therapy is often delivered in a group format. However, we have not before run a CFT group in secondary adult mental health. We have worked on modifying past group materials to make it accessible for our client group, by getting the right balance of theory and practice, with a focus on it being skills based.


Team: The group has been developed by Clinical Psychologists Dr David Haggarty, Dr Gabby Ardeman, and Dr Lizzie Felter, and by Katherine Parkin, Support Time Recovery Worker and Assistant Psychologist. We work in the Cambridge Adult Locality Team, and the Huntingdon Adult Locality Team, which are both secondary mental health services.


Involvement: We are looking for people who have relevant experience and interest on the topic to help the team with the development of the material for the CFT group. At this stage the team would like to get input and advice from experts by experience on the content for the CFT group. Discussion will also take place on issues the team will need to take into consideration when evaluating the CFT group.


Time commitment: Two meetings will take place. The first one is scheduled for Thursday 14th February 10am – 12noon and it will take place in Cambridge. During the meeting the team will present the slides for the 8 session group.


Payment: Members will receive £10 per hour for attending the meetings. Travel expenses will be paid at 56 p per mile or public transport rates. All claims must be accompanied by relevant receipts. Please note, this income may have implications for those claiming benefits. All income must be declared to the Inland Revenue.


Contact: If you are interested in this work, please send your expression of interest to Iliana Rokkou ( with details of relevant experience.

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