PG Cert Compassion Focused Therapy

Why choose this course?

Studying a Postgraduate Certificate in Compassion Focused Therapy will:

  • Provide the opportunity for you to develop a critical and in-depth understanding of the theory and practice of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)
  • Give you the opportunity to gain integral knowledge of the assessment and formulation and interventions in CFT
  • Enhance your skills through intensive clinical supervision that examines clinical practice to ensure transfer of knowledge into the clinical setting
  • Give you the opportunity to receive expert training throughout the course.

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Fact file

Start date: September

Course length: Part time: one year; blended learning

Campus: Kedleston Road site, Derby Campus

College: College of Health and Social Care

About this course

Compassion focused therapy, developed by Professor Paul Gilbert OBE, is a psychological approach that was originally developed to help people with high shame and self-criticism.

A rich integrative model

Compassion Focused Therpy is a rich integrative model rooted in evolutionary, neuro and psychological science models. There are also influences from Buddhist philosophy, and the course aims to develop your understanding of the various theories and philosophies that inform this approach. The CFT approach pays particular attention to the key role of the therapeutic relationship and the course aims to enhance the skills and competencies required to work effectively with this model.

This course is for you if you’re in a mental health profession and you are trained to form and develop psychotherapeutic relationships. It may therefore be of particular interest to health care workers working within psychiatry, psychology, nursing, occupational therapy, counselling or psychotherapy.

Develop your clinical and theoretical knowledge

By studying this course, you’ll develop your clinical and theoretical knowledge in compassion focused therapy. You will have the opportunity to network with like-minded, dynamic individuals and be taught by leading academics and professionals in your field of expertise.

There’s also the opportunity for you to experience expert clinical and academic supervision to develop your practical skills and ensure you can provide proficient therapy to your future clients.

Programme Leader, Wendy Wood, is undertaking pivotal research to investigate the experiences of people who have undertaken training in Compassion Focused Therapy. This will strengthen both your learning and student experience. 

Blended learning

You will study this course via blended learning. This will involve the following:

  • Two five-day blocks of study at the University. Your first study block is usually held in September followed by a second study block in March/April. The first block study includes the introductory three day workshop delivered by Professor Paul Gilbert. This provides the opportunity to meet others who are working with CFT. The second block study week is exclusively for course participants and is focused on skills development
  • Weekly live supervision via our virtual classroom, and the opportunity to receive feedback on recordings of clinical work via our secure file transfer system
  • Regular live lectures/seminars; these will be recorded for later viewing, and will include presentations from key experts in the field of CFT
  • Rich sources of data and video recordings to study
  • Use of discussion boards.

What you will cover

The course is designed to facilitate your learning and experience, by creating a balance of theory and practice elements. Assessments also reflect this balance, to ensure your learning is meaningful to your everyday practice. The course also places great emphasis on your own personal practice of using CFT.

You’ll study these modules:

Compassion Focused Therapy 1

Compassion focussed therapy is a new way of working therapeutically that draws together behavioural, cognitive and affect, into a new way of conceptualising client difficulties. High shame and self-criticism are associated with a range of psychological difficulties and recognised to be difficult to help, with traditional therapies. CFT was developed to target shame and self-criticism problems. These individuals often come from harsh backgrounds and find it difficult to feel reassured or safe. CFT focuses on developing people’s abilities to feel inner safeness and self-reassurance as an antidote to self-criticism.

This requires working with specific affect regulation systems. Over the years, various therapies have developed interventions (such as exposure and other techniques involving meta-cognitive processes), aimed at toning down negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear and sadness. Recent developments in therapeutic practice suggest that we also need to consider how to tone up and foster certain types of positive emotions.

However, therapists have come to realise that it can’t be assumed that by reducing negative emotions, the positive ones will come on line. Developing the capacities for positive affect, linked to well-being, requires consideration of the type of positive affect that will be the focus of development. Both the theory and practice of compassion focused therapy will be covered in this module. This module is a requirement for students on the compassion focused therapy course.

The module includes the following themes:

  • Theories of Compassion including Drive, Safeness and Threat
  • Distinguishing External and Internal Threats
  • Exploring different types of shame and how shame is linked to self-criticism, threat and safety behaviours
  • Therapeutic Relationship
  • Functional Assessment and Analysis
  • Formulating problems in terms of threat and safety strategies
  • Key Therapy skills such as guided discovery, meditation and imagery
  • Introduction to the basic model: the nature of compassion as an antidote to shame and self-attacking
  • Key tasks of compassion-focus therapy.

The module is assessed by a 4,000 word case study, which is submitted in January.

Compassion Focused Therapy 2

This module is a double module, it runs concurrently and builds on the work in Compassion Focused Therapy 1.

The module includes the following themes:

  • Theories of compassion and shame and psycho physiology
  • Advanced therapeutic relationship and micro skills
  • Formulating problems in terms of threat and safety strategies with complex clients
  • Key tasks of compassion-focused therapy with complex clients in practice
  • Training for self-compassion with compassionate attention, thinking, behaviour and feeling
  • Using imagery
  • Compassionate reframing
  • Compassionate letter writing

This module is assessed using a portfolio which draws together several elements that you will have been working on throughout the year, and includes a video analysis of your clinical work.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need a postgraduate or an equivalent qualification in a psychological health related profession such as mental health nursing, clinical psychology, therapeutic counselling. You will need to be accredited (or working towards) as a therapist. You will need to have access to clients to be able to provide one-to-one or group compassion focused therapy.

How to apply

UK/EU students

Fees and finance

2015/16 Fees

UK/EU students

  • £1,100 per module (you usually take the equivalent of three single modules)

These fees apply if you're starting this course between September 2015 and August 2016. We recommend you check fee details with us though, as they can change. Costs can increase each year.

How you will learn

How you're assessed

You will be assessed by a portfolio, written case study and assessment of practice.

Careers and employability

Generally people who take this course are already employed as therapists within organisations such as NHS or third sector organisations or are self-employed therapists. Developing knowledge and skills in CFT is seen as a valuable addition to their practice. 

Where will I study?

Kedleston Road site, Derby Campus