Developing our Compassionate Minds
Space on the training is limited
Those of us working in mental health services know, as well as anyone, that life can be tough. Most of us face periods in our personal lives when we feel overwhelmed by work, relationships, sickness, or we experience losing someone close. As mental health workers, we also spend most of our working lives as the constant witnesses of other people’s suffering.
And, as if these experiences aren’t difficult enough, we also all have a tricky brain to contend with: a brain and mind that, through poor evolutionary design (and evolutionary trade-offs), tends to keep us stuck in problematic loops of worry, rumination or self-criticism, which adds another whole layer of suffering on top.
Often it is hard to find the time to pause and reflect on ourselves, on our own problematic loops, and on what bearing this is having on our ability to help others. We plough on. And even if we are able to reflect, we don’t always know the best way to nurture ourselves towards more sustainable, fulfilling, and compassionate practice.
The emerging science and practice of Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT; Gilbert, 2009; 2010), with its roots in evolutionary psychology, attachment theory, and neuroscience, offers a useful framework for approaching these basic psychological challenges at each of the personal, professional, organisational, and community levels.
In this one day workshop, we will start with an understanding of what we all share (colleagues / clients / humanity) and therefore of what we are all up against. The reality is that we just find ourselves here, in the flow of life, with a ‘tricky’ brain, and we’re doing the best we can to deal with this suffering.
A lot of what happens in our minds is not our fault, but it is still up to us what we want to do about it. In the workshop, we will explore how our evolved minds can be orientated in certain ways depending on our social motives, and we will also consider the research that shows how orientating our minds towards compassion for self and others can bring a variety of positive mental and physical and health benefits.
We will then learn some techniques and practices to help us cultivate compassion in our personal and professional lives. The workshop will consider ways in which we can develop compassion for ourselves, facilitate our clients’ development of compassion, and can also help to create social contexts in which compassion may flourish. A combination of group discussion exercises, pair work, and experiential practice will be used.
Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland is a clinical psychologist, researcher, and trainer who integrates different therapeutic approaches, in particular compassion-focused therapy (CFT). He provides psychological therapies for a CFT practice called Balanced Minds and also runs compassion training workshops for practitioners and the general public. Charlie is a clinical psychologist, researcher and trainer currently based at the University of Glasgow.
Charlie completed his clinical psychology training at the University of Oxford, and has delivered psychological therapies in a variety of NHS settings in London and the South East. In his private practice, he provides psychological assessments, formulations, and interventions that integrate different therapeutic approaches, in particular compassion-focused therapy (CFT) and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), but also drawing on other mindfulness-based and emotion-focused therapies.
Dr Heriot-Maitland’s academic and research interests mainly lie in the application of CFT in psychosis, and he has recently been awarded a Fellowship by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to forward the scientific knowledge this area.He is currently researching the social context of anomalous experiences and the application of Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) for people experiencing distress in relation to psychosis.