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
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.
Compassion Focused Therapy 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.
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.
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 January
- 20 hours of supervision is required to complete the post-graduate certificate
- Please note costs for clinical supervision are not included in this course
- Regular live lectures/seminars that are 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
We’re proud to say that our courses are closely mapped against the health and social care sector. This ensures that our curriculum is up-to-date, providing you with the assurance that your learning is current and relevant. This does mean that we do have to respond to national changes such as government policy.
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 modules such as:
Compassion Focused Therapy 1
Compassion focused 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 runs in the spring semester 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 a roleplay.
Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.
This course is based on real world learning. Students will be practicing the skills they learn on this course within their existing clinical practice.
How you're assessed
You will be assessed by a portfolio, written case study and assessment of practice.
Who you will meet
Professor Paul Gilbert PhD (OBE) - Professor of Clinical Psychology
Over the past 30 years, Paul has developed research in the social rank theory of depression, and particularly in shame and self-criticism. He has written/edited 20 books and over 150 papers. In 2006 he established the Compassionate Mind Foundation charity. He was awarded an OBE in March 2011.
Dr Michelle Cree DPsyc - Consultant Clinical Psychologist (Derbyshire Childbearing and Mental Health Service
Michelle is interested in developing research investigating the impact of CMT on this client group, particularly looking at whether CMT has an influence on the mother’s bond with her baby. She has published her book recently - The Compassionate Mind Approach to Postnatal Depression: Using Compassion Focused Therapy to Enhance Mood, Confidence and Bonding (2015).
You'll usually need an undergraduate 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. You need to be It literate as this is a blended learning course, and involves a great deal of work online.
2020/21 Fees (August 2020 - July 2021)
£1,333 per 20 credits*
*Note – at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the awards below.
|Postgraduate Certificate||60 Credits|
|Postgraduate Diploma||120 Credits|
|MA or MSc||180 Credits|
This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.
Please note that all fees may be subject to annual increase.
Additional costs and optional extras
People who take this course are often employed as therapists within organisations such as the 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.
If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.Contact us
Additional information about your studies
Download programme specification
Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.
Additional costs and optional extras
We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.
The information below is correct for entry in the academic year September 2020 - August 2021 only. Entry for future academic years may be subject to change.
Included in your fees
- DBS Check
- 3 Day workshop with Professor Paul Gilbert
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
- Core textbooks approx. £60
- Accommodation and travel costs for block study
- Twenty Clinical Supervision sessions approx. £800
Optional costs not included in your fees
- Other relevant textbooks approx. £100
Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.
Please note that this course is subject to minimum numbers in order to run.