Foundations of Compassion Focused Therapy

an Introduction to Theory and Practice

CE Hours available ( How do I get my CE? )
Dennis Tirch, PhD Founder of the Center for Compassion Focused Therapy, CFT trainer, and author
Laura Silberstein-Tirch, PsyD Director of the Center for Compassion Focused Therapy, CFT trainer, and ACT expert

About This Course

Many of us have seen how mindfulness and self-compassion training can change people's lives, but how can we best bring the power of mindful compassion directly into our psychotherapy practice? How do we translate compassion-focused meditation and guided imagery methods into effective psychotherapy techniques, tailored to the individual client, moment by moment? Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) is a cutting-edge, evidence-based psychotherapy that takes the "third wave" of psychotherapy further, expanding the frontiers of contemplative psychotherapy by deliberate awakening our compassionate minds. For thousands of years, wisdom traditions have used mindfulness, acceptance and compassion based training as a platform to transform the mind. Developed by Dr. Paul Gilbert, CFT puts that process in your hands, drawing on rigorous behavioral psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary theory. This online workshop will take you on an experiential journey into the foundations of CFT. Through a structured program, participants will engage in the core Compassionate Mind Training practices found in CFT and learn how to move beyond basic theory, to implement CFT interventions for a range of problems. We will also explore how unlocking deeper training in mindfulness and compassion can empower our clinical work, creating new possibilities for us as people. Over the course of these interactive, webinar-style sessions, you'll see how the science of compassion can be used in and out of the therapy room. Participants will engage in readings, experiential self-practice, and a personal journey into the compassionate mind training that is a new frontier in engaged psychotherapy training in compassion. Grounded in CFT's evolutionary theory, this course will cover a range of topics including:
  1. The role of mindfulness, compassion and acceptance in effective psychotherapy
  2. How to use mindfulness and compassion techniques in the therapy relationship.
  3. Techniques for using compassion training to enhance treatment of anxiety and mood disorders
  4. Using CFT with other evidence-based therapy methods like ACT, CBT & DBT
  5. Running Compassionate Mind Training groups
  6. Using CFT to work with chronic shame and self-criticism
Through this work we will look at compassionate imagery and meditation practices from the inside out and learn how to apply them to practices like exposure and behavioral activation. These methods can complement and strengthen even a state-of-the-art therapeutic approach. This training is specifically designed to help practitioners of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and other behavior therapies deepen their understanding and practice of compassion focused treatment of anxiety and mood disorders. Through small group work and a series of experiential exercises you will build the foundation needed to advance your CFT skills base, and to grow as a clinician. And you'll get to have your questions and concerns addressed by the top trainers in compassion focused therapy, including the form's originator, Dr. Paul Gilbert, who will be joining us as a special guest for one of the sessions in this training. This 8-week course is Part I of a redesigned and reimagined 16-week immersive, online learning experience in CFT.


Session 1 | July 27, 2020, 1 PM—3 PM EDT
From Theory to Practice in CFT – Introducing the CFT Model and How to Move from Concept to Application in CFT
Session 2 | August 3, 2020, 1 PM—3 PM EDT
The Evolutionary Model of Compassion and Social Mentality Theory – Experiential Exercises, Discussion and Assignments
Session 3 | August 10, 2020, 1 PM—3 PM EDT
The Reality Check, The Nature of Mind, and Nature’s Mind – Why our Suffering is Not Our Fault – Experiential Practice, Discussion and Assignments
Session 4 | August 17, 2020, 1 PM—3 PM EDT
The Three Circle Model of Emotions in CFT in Theory and Application – Introductory Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) Experiential Practice, Discussion and Assignments
Session 5 | August 24, 2020, 1 PM—3 PM EDT
The Twelve Competencies of Compassion in Theory and Application – CMT Experiential Practice, Discussion and Assignments
Session 6 | August 31, 2020, 1 PM—3 PM EDT
Case Conceptualization in CFT in Theory and Application – Fears, Blocks, and Resistances – CMT Experiential Practice, Discussion and Assignments
Session 7 | September 14, 2020, 1 PM—3 PM EDT
Working with Shame and Self-Criticism in CFT – CMT Experiential Practice, Discussion and Assignments
Session 8 | September 21, 2020, 1 PM—3 PM EDT
Multiple Self Work and Multiple Chair Work in CFT – CMT Experiential Practice, Discussion and Assignments

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:
  1. Describe the foundational evolutionary model of compassion, mindfulness and emotion used in CFT.
  2. Use the CFT “Three Circle Model” of emotion regulation in clinical contexts.
  3. Discuss and utilize Social Mentality Theory in psychotherapy and in scalable interventions.
  4. Utilize the therapeutic relationship to create a context of relational safeness in the therapy room as a part of CFT process.
  5. Outline and implement a CFT model of functional analysis of interpersonal exchanges in psychotherapy, using the therapist’s response to shape client behavior.
  6. Discuss the multiple self-model and intervention set in CFT.
  7. Discuss multiple-self dialogue work in CFT.
  8. Identify and embody the 12 competencies of compassion, experientially training patients in using these elements.
  9. Describe specific therapist micro-skills and active therapy processes that can lead to greater flexibility and adaptive responding in the moment.
  10. Develop fluency in collaborative case conceptualization based upon the attributes of the compassionate mind.
  11. Deploy a range of specific techniques that are focused on cultivating the competencies of compassion in the therapy relationship.
  12. Discuss ways to implement compassionate mind training, in the service of cultivating the competencies of compassion.
  13. Utilize the “compassionate self” imagery practice in helping clients develop compassionate strengths.
  14. Describe the range of CFT imagery practices.
  15. Use CFT experiential methods in individual or group contexts.

Continuing Education

Please review complete CE and conflict-of-interest disclosure information prior to registering. This course is jointly sponsored by Praxis CET and Institute for Better Health (IBH) and is approved for 16 CE Hours by the following:

  • APA – Psychologists
  • NBCC – National Counselors
  • NAADAC – Drug & Alcohol Counselors
  • NY State – Counselors and Social Workers
  • Other State Level Counselors, MFTs, and Social Workers
  • WESPSB – Educators
  • ACCME – Physicians
  • ANCC – Nurses
  • NASW - This program is Approved by the National Association of Social Workers (Approval # 886825109-7467) for 16 continuing education contact hours.


No books, courses or journal articles are required prerequisites for this course, but the list of recommended readings below will help to enhance your experience.


For mental health professionals, beginners through intermediate and on to advanced practitioners. The course will be appropriate for clinicians of any background, and professionals with CFT, ACT and CBT training may find the concepts more familiar and readily user-friendly. Graduate students, coaches and teachers might also benefit from this training.

Recommended Reading

Gilbert, P. (2009). The Compassionate Mind. London: Oakland: New Harbinger

Gilbert, P. & Choden (2013). Mindful compassion. Oakland: New Harbinger

Tirch, D., Schoendorff, B. & Silberstein, L. (2014). The ACT Practitioners’ Guide
to The Science of Compassion
. Oakland: New Harbinger


Kirby, J., Steindl, S. & Tellegen, C. (2017). A Meta-Analysis of Compassion-Based Interventions: Current State of Knowledge and Future Directions. Behavior Therapy. 48-6. 778-792.

Braehler, C., Harper, I., & Gilbert, P. (2012). Compassion focused group therapy for recovery after psychosis. In C. Steel (Ed.), CBT for schizophrenia: Evidence-based interventions and future directions (pp. 235–266). Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley and Sons.

Lutz, A., Brefczynski-Lewis, J., Johnstone, T., & Davidson, R.J. (2008). Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation: Effects of meditative expertise. PLoS ONE, e1897. DOI:10.1373/journal.pone.0001897.

This training is worth 16 CE credit hours if attended live. While we can only provide CE to those who are present – i.e. logged in – for live presentation(s), all Praxis webinars are recorded for later viewing. Registrants may then access these recordings at any time for up to six months from the conclusion of the training to which they pertain.

Technical Requirements
This is an online learning event. Access to a computer and high-speed internet is required. Refer to our FAQ page for further information on technical requirements for this training.

Refer to our FAQ page for our disclosure information.

All prices listed in US dollars and times in US Eastern time.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

We understand, sometimes things come up!

Praxis will offer a full refund to registrants of both live and live-online trainings who cancel their registration up to 14 days before the course or workshop start date, minus an administrative processing fee of $30 for a 2-day workshop or online course, and a $50 fee for a 4-day workshop. If cancelled within 14 days, no refund will be issued, however, a credit for the same amount will be applied toward another learning product, which expires within 1 year. Please email us at to cancel a registration.