1st Edition

Essentials of Compassion Focused Therapy A Practice Manual for Clinicians

    520 Pages 36 Color & 52 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    520 Pages 36 Color & 52 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    520 Pages 36 Color & 52 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book presents a comprehensive, 12-module transdiagnostic program to deliver Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) in group and individual settings.


    Offering an accessible step-by-step guide to the essentials of CFT and its application to a range of contexts, this book provides clinicians with clear guidelines to deliver the modules and adapt them to the specific needs of target groups/individuals. Each module focuses on a theme, which is explained through an introductory basic science for the clinician and then developed and explored through psychoeducation for the client, followed by a variety of experiential exercises. Also included are examples of CFT case formulations, therapist scripts, and client handouts. As an additional resource, clinicians are provided access to www.cftmanual.com, an online platform with downloadable support material such as guided audio meditations, videos of brief Yoga sessions, educational videos, and supplementary handouts.


    This practice guide will be the authoritative resource in CFT for clinicians, trainers, supervisors, researchers, and clients with previous CFT experience who wish to deepen their practice.

    Foreword by Prof. Paul Gilbert A _ Introduction B _ CFT formulations 1_ Introduction to Compassion and Tricky Brain 2_ Three Types of Emotion 3_ Mindfulness 4_ Safety and Safeness & Receiving Compassion from Others 5_ The Compassionate Self 6_ The Multiple Selves 7_ Self-Criticism 8_ Shame and Guilt 9_ Deepening Compassion for the self 10_ Compassionate Assertiveness 11_ Forgiveness 12_ Envisioning a Compassionate Future APPENDIX (Client handout A and Client handout B)


    Nicola Petrocchi, PhD, PsyD, is a psychotherapist, researcher, adjunct professor of psychology at John Cabot University (Rome), the founder and director of Compassionate Mind Italia, and an international trainer of CFT.

    James Kirby, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, researcher, and Co-Director of the Compassionate Mind Research Group at the University of Queensland. In 2022, he authored Choose Compassion. He is an international trainer of CFT.

    Beatrice Baldi, PhD scholar, is a clinical psychologist, 500H-certified Yoga teacher certified in Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, and a trainer in CFT. She has been collaborating for several years with Dr. Nicola Petrocchi in spreading a Compassion-focused approach to yoga.


    'This book will be quite valuable for clinicians who practice any psychotherapeutic modality. Incorporating compassion-focused techniques is essential for individuals who suffer from undue self-criticism which undermines their sense of well-being.'


    Judith S. Beck, PhD, President | Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Clinical Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry,  University of Pennsylvania.

    ‘Research showed compelling data, the clinicians intuitively knew that enhancing compassion could be an essential part of any kind of psychotherapy, but there was one missing piece of the puzzle: a structured, step-by-step guide to CFT. It has been years in the making - and now we have it. It is wonderful. Thank you so much!  This book will certainly become a vital resource for any therapist, and any researcher not only in the field of mindfulness-based psychotherapy.’

    Martin Bohus, MD, Professor of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Heidelberg University, Germany. Former Chair of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany. Editor BPDED President European DBT Association.

    ‘Compassion Focused Therapy is a unique, evidence-based model of therapy that systematically cultivates the healing resource of compassion. The authors have themselves contributed significantly to the evolution of CFT. In this long-awaited volume, they integrate the key elements of CFT into a well-organized, comprehensive treatment manual.  Innovative, practical and inspiring, I hope it lands on the desks of all clinicians!’ 

    Christopher Germer, PhD, Lecturer on Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Author, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, co-author of The Mindful Self-compassion Workbook.

    ‘Cultivating Compassion for the self is a crucial change process. This book will help you help clients cultivate this essential ingredient of healing.’

    Leslie Greenberg, PhD, is professor emeritus of psychology at York University in Toronto, and also director of the Emotion-Focused Therapy Clinic in Toronto.

    ‘The Essentials of Compassion Focused Therapy" is an exceptional and invaluable resource for therapists looking to deeply engage with the transformative power of compassion in therapeutic settings. Grounded in an evolutionary and biopsychosocial framework, this manual offers a systematic approach to harnessing compassion's three flows—other-to-self, self-to-other, and self-to-self—as a means to confront and alleviate suffering. Not merely a didactic manual, this guide, with its flexible 12-module structure, offers clinicians both structure and adaptability. Filled with practical tools, scripts, and exercises, this book is designed with both the therapist and client in mind. CFT can be used alone and in combination with other methods; individually or in groups. This book spans all such used and transcends being just another therapy guide—it's pathway for genuine healing and growth.’

    Steven C. Hayes, PhD, Foundation Professor of Psychology Emeritus, University of Nevada, Reno and originator of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

    ‘Written by some of the foremost CFT clinician experts, Niki Petrocchi, James Kirby, and Beatrice Baldi present a hands-on modular therapist manual in a beautifully simple, concise, and clear format. The Essentials of Compassion Focused Therapy: A Practice Manual for Clinicians is destined to become a classic clinician guide on CFT. It is an important therapeutic tool every competent clinician should know.’

    Stefan G. Hofmann, PhD, Alexander von Humboldt Professor and LOEWE Spitzenprofessor, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany.

    ‘Mental health problems affect some 300 million people in the world today and some one billion people will experience an episode of psychiatric illness in their lifetime. Many will have experienced some degree of trauma and its aftermath. One of the great strengths of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) is that it is not only rooted in psychological science, biology, and evolutionary theory, but offers not only recovery from mental health ill health, but also healing and transformation. There is a lot to like about this book. It is a wonderful resource that makes the depth and complexity of CFT engaging and accessible. It is eminently practical, well organised, and can be used flexibly by CFT clinicians from novice to advanced therapists. I can also easily see it being used to train CFT therapists.  The authors’ have an extensive and embodied understanding of the breadth and complexity of CFT, deep clinical experience and are highly skilled communicators. This enables them to powerfully convey the art, science and heart of CFT.  It is a book every CFT therapist should have in the section of their bookshelf of books that they go back to again and again for ideas, troubleshooting, structure, and inspiration.’ 

    Willem Kuyken, PhD, Ritblat Professor of Mindfulness and Psychological Science, University of Oxford.

    ‘This manual is an amazing resource for therapists.  The book integrates a deep clinical acumen with an encyclopedic understanding of compassion to offer literally one-stop shopping on how to use compassion in clinical work.’

    Fred Luskin, PhD, is the director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Projects and professor at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology. He is the author of Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness (HarperSanFrancisco, 2001).

    ‘This manual represents a tremendously valuable resource for therapists, researchers, and all of us drawn to the flourishing field of compassion-focused therapy.  Included among its many strengths are its rich array of therapist scripts, client handouts, vivid in-session examples and prompts, and other print and online resources; its modular format, allowing for customization; its flexibility to function as a stand-alone therapy or to be integrated into other therapies; and its transdiagnostic applicability (who among our clients wouldn’t benefit from developing a more compassionate self?)  It is certainly a landmark in the development of compassion-focused therapy, and I am confident that it will enhance the skills of many therapists and improve the lives of countless clients.’

    Andrew M. Pomerantz, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and author of Clinical Psychology: Science, Practice, and Diversity.

    ‘This manual provides clinicians from all backgrounds with the stepping stones critical to instilling a compassionate motivation in their therapeutic work with their clients and themselves. The manual has new and innovative approaches and exercises to help clients embody this compassion to help with self-criticism and shame, and to help foster increased wellbeing. This is a must-read for anyone wanting to know and use CFT.’

    Shauna Shapiro, PhD, Professor, Author of Rewire Your Mind and Good Morning, I Love You.

    ‘The Essentials of Compassion Focused Therapy provides a much-needed, user-friendly, and beautifully constructed “operator’s manual” which will strengthen therapists in bringing the theory, insights, and practices of CFT to individual and group therapy with a wide range of suffering client populations.  Going forward, this manual will be considered essential for the delivery of CFT.’ 

    Charles Swenson, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Author of DBT Principles in Action: Acceptance, Change, and Dialectics. 

    ‘This is the book that CFT clinicians have been waiting for! One of the most frequent questions that CFT therapists ask in supervision is how to navigate and plan a course of CFT treatment. This manual offers a structured but flexible guide through CFT therapy and will be invaluable for clinicians offering group or individual formats. The manual is remarkable for honouring CFT’s process driven principles whilst also providing clear and practical suggestions for everyday treatment planning and evaluation. A real achievement.’

    Tobyn Bell, PhD, International CFT Training. Author of Experiencing Compassion Focused Therapy from the Inside Out.

    ‘This is it! A step-by-step practical guide to compassion focused therapy, delightfully illustrated, with clear, simple instructions and scripts for therapists.’

    James Bennett-Levy, PhD, Professor of Clinical Psychology, The University of Sydney. Author of Experiencing Compassion Focused Therapy from the Inside Out.

    ‘A must-read for anybody interested in the realm of compassion! For clinicians it provides a step-by-step guide to using Compassion Focused Therapy, and for researchers this manual will be excellent to help support ongoing research. The book includes lots of exercises with therapists´ scripts, clients´ handouts and even an online platform with additional resources. Enjoy:)’ 

    Júlia Halamová, PhD, is a psychotherapist for individuals, couples, and families, a researcher in the area of compassion, a professor of Psychology at Comenius University (Bratislava, Slovakia), the founder and director of EFT Institute Slovakia, and a certified trainer of Emotion Focused Therapy for individuals and couples.

    ‘If you’re interested in how to ‘do’ Compassion Focused Therapy in a step-by-step way, this is the only book you should buy.’

    Chris Irons, PhD, Clinical Psychologist & Director Balanced Minds, author of the Self-Compassion App.

    ‘For all therapists who've appreciated the CFT approach but wondered "What do I do as a CFT therapist, and how would I do it?", this book is a structured compendium of explorations, interventions, techniques, and guided practices, complete with suggested therapist scripts and client handouts.  I particularly appreciated the exploration of the nuances that can sometimes arise in therapy while exploring particularly topics with clients. This book is a CFT toolbox.’

    Russell Kolts, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Eastern Washington University and author of CFT Made Simple, Experiencing Compassion-Focused Therapy from the Inside Out, and The Anger Workbook.

    ‘This long-awaited practice oriented guide for both group and individual therapy is truly a gift for the CFT community. Whether you are just starting out with CFT or a seasoned practitioner, this accessible, clear and flexible book offers a step-by-step guide and will be essential for developing your practice. This book will sit alongside the extensive training courses available from the Compassionate Mind Foundation and provides a concrete usable framework for the practice of CFT.’ 

    Kate LucrePhD, Compassion Focused Group Psychotherapist.

    ‘This phenomenal book is an extraordinary achievement. The authors gift us with a comprehensive 12-module transdiagnostic manual to deliver Compassion Focused Therapy in group and individual settings, written in an easy to read, practical, insightful and inspiring manner. This extraordinary book is a wonderful and essential tool for clinicians who want to deepen their CFT knowledge and effectively incorporate CFT into their work with clients, but also for those who simply wish to integrate basic skills and key components of CFT into their existing therapeutic approaches. Additionally, this book offers an imperative resource for researchers seeking to evaluate and expand the evidence base of CFT using rigorous scientific methods. This is valuable contribution to the field of compassion focused interventions and an indispensable volume in any clinician’s library.’

    Marcela Matos, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Auxiliary Researcher, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Coimbra.

    ‘This practice manual represents a fundamental resource, both for practitioners and researchers, and I am sure it will improve treatment integrity in future research. It is written with mastery, based on the clinical and research expertise of the authors. The included explanations and practical exercises make it a core resource for students and trainees. I am sure this book will help to disseminate compassion even more, while it makes possible to alleviate the suffering of many people throughout the globe.’

    Daniel Rijo, PhD, Professor of Clinical and Forensic Psychology at the University of Coimbra, Coordinator of the Center for Research in Neuropsychology and Cognitive Behavioural Intervention.

    ‘CFT Essentials is the compassion focused therapy manual we've all been waiting for. The authors have compiled a warm and friendly book that will be illuminating and practical for both therapists, whether new to CFT or more experienced, and researchers, especially those interested in investigating this powerful approach to reducing human suffering and promoting flourishing. And the book contains all of the CFT components that we know and love, as well as some creative new ideas that will excite even those most familiar with the approach (check out Chapter B: CFT Formulations!). I learned a lot from this book, and it is a must-read for anyone wishing to deepen their understanding and practice of CFT.’

    Stan Steindl, PhD, Clinical Psychologist at Psychology Consultants Pty Ltd and Adjunct Professor at The University of Queensland. Author of The Gifts of Compassion: How to Understand and Overcome Suffering.

    ‘How can you sharpen your skills as a CFT therapist? How can you bring CFT work to your existing therapy approach with integrity? This manual provides a roadmap and a friendly guide to doing all of this and more!’

    Dennis Tirch, PhD, Founding Director, The Center for Compassion Focused Therapy. Author of The Compassionate Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety.

    ‘The Essentials in Compassion Focused Therapy is going to be a ‘must have’ addition to the resources available to every Compassion Focused Therapist.’

    Mary Welford, PhD, Consultant Clinical Psychologist. Author of Compassion Focused Therapy for Dummies. 

    ‘The authors have created the definitive text on how to bring Compassion Focused Therapy into your practice. Clear, precise, and informative.’

    James R. Doty, MD, founder and director of the Stanford University Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), and author of the New York Times and international bestseller of Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart.

    ‘This is an incredibly practical and useful tool for therapists to help their clients learn to be more self-compassionate using the CFT approach.  It offers clear direction for therapists while also providing room for each clinician to make the delivery of information unique and authentic.  If you’re interested in helping your clients learn the life-changing skill of self-compassion, this manual is for you.’

    Kristin Neff, PhD, Author of Self-Compassion, Fierce Self-Compassion, and co-author of The Mindful Self-compassion Workbook.

    ‘Finally! This manual is what we needed to incorporate CFT into our clinical practice. A practical step-by-step and clinically sound must-read for mental health professionals who struggle in working with clients characterized by high levels of self-criticism, shame and guilt.’

    Cristina Ottaviani, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.