Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy

book cover

Teaching clients to practice self-compassion can lead to tremendous healing. This book integrates traditional Buddhist teachings and mindfulness with cutting-edge science from several distinct fields—including neurobiology, cognitive neuroscience, psychotherapy outcome research, and positive psychology—to explain how clinicians can help clients develop a more loving, kind, and forgiving attitude through self-compassion.

The practice of self-compassion supports effective therapy in two vital ways:

1. It helps clients become a source of compassion for themselves.
2. It helps therapists be happier and generate more compassion for their clients.

Filled with illuminating case examples, Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy shows readers how to apply self-compassion practices in treatment. The first two chapters illuminate what self-compassion is, the science behind it, and why it is so beneficial in therapy. The rest of the book unpacks practical clinical applications, covering not only basic clinical principles but also specific, evidence-based techniques for building affect tolerance, affect regulation, and mindful thinking, working with self-criticism, self-sabotage, trauma, addiction, relationship problems, psychosis, and more, and overcoming common roadblocks.

Self-Compassion is a Skill

Researchers now understand that self-compassion is a skill that can be strengthened through deliberate practice, and that it is one of the strongest predictors of mental health and wellness. The brain’s compassion center, which neuroscientists call the Care Circuit, can be targeted and fortified using specific techniques.

As clients learn to practice self-compassion, they develop a deep source of calming, soothing, and positive regard within themselves, which makes them more resilient and better able to regulate their emotions. By cultivating the skill of self-compassion in their clients, mental health professionals can help them more effectively and sustainably navigate difficult emotions, transform negative core beliefs, manage states of depression, anxiety, and shame, transcend suffering, and motivate themselves with kindness rather than criticism. In turn, as clinicians learn how to be more self-compassionate they naturally begin to feel more compassion for even the most difficult clients.

Who Will Benefit from This Book

Readers do not need any background in mindfulness in order to benefit from this book. However, those with mindfulness experience will find that self-compassion practices have the capacity to add new layers of depth to mindfulness-based therapies such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy is a step-by-step guide for clinicians to build the capacity for self-compassion in their clients as well as themselves. It provides concrete tools—including word-for-word case transcripts and five core skills—to introduce this concept for deeper transformation in therapy.

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