Compassion Focused Therapy Postgraduate Diploma

CFT is a “third wave” therapeutic approach which builds upon developmental, social and evolutionary psychology and neuroscience.

CFT is designed to help clinicians work with people who experience high levels of shame and self-criticism, or who find compassion and receiving care from others (including their therapist) difficult to manage. These factors have been associated with poor therapeutic outcome in existing therapies.

CFT is an integrative approach, utilizing the wisdom of both Western and Eastern approaches to helping people change. CFT argues that we can be taught to train our minds (Compassionate Mind Training) to help us to experience compassion, develop various aspects of compassion for ourselves and others, improve our abilities to self-sooth and affiliate with others, and to foster the courage and wisdom we need to cope with difficult life events, memories or emotions (Gilbert, 2009, 2010 Gilbert & Irons, 2005).

There is emerging evidence that teaching people to develop self-compassion can significantly reduce shame and self-criticism and lead to improvements in mental and physical health conditions. 

This programme is the world’s first Postgraduate Diploma course in CFT.

The course will provide students with the relevant skills, knowledge and understanding in:

  • The CFT model and the evidence base that underpins it
  • CFT approach to formulation and how to collaboratively develop formulations 
  • Micro skills required to practice CFT
  • Key therapeutic interventions used by CFT therapists. These include: Affect recognition and management skills, mindfulness, developing the soothing system, imagery and two chair work, compassionate letter writing and compassionate thought balancing. 
  • Using CFT to understand and address difficulties within therapeutic relationships
  • How CFT can be used to treat a range of clinical populations, age groups and in group and individual treatment settings

Why study this course

This is the first Postgraduate Diploma in Compassion Focused Therapy. It is taught by experts in the field including Professor Paul Gilbert OBE (founder of CFT and the Compassion Mind Foundation) Dr Michelle Cree, Dr Ken Goss, Dr Chris Irons, Dr Russell Kolts, Dr Deborah Lee and Dr Mary Welford. It will run in collaboration with the highly successful University of Birmingham CBT Programme led by Dr Geraldine Fletcher.

The course provides rigorous clinical and academic training in CFT, enabling students to develop enhanced clinical competencies, which will be beneficial when treating complex clinical presentations, especially those involving shame and self-criticism.

Modules

Module 1 - Fundamentals of Compassion Focused Therapy

This module provides 40 credits of 120 credits PG Dip CFT. It is designed to teach the fundamental skills necessary to practice CFT in a clinical setting. These skills will be assessed by a 3,000-word essay and two presentations.

This module teaches the therapeutic model and fundamental skills required for clinical practice as a CFT Therapist. It will introduce students to CFT, and the evidence base that underpins the model. It will also introduce students to the CFT approach to formulation and how to collaboratively develop formulations with patients. Student’s competencies in critically appraising relevant literature and evaluating clinical outcome will also be developed.

Module outcomes 

  • Upon successful completion of this module students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental theory and research underpinning CFT.
  • Critically evaluate the evidence base that underpins the CFT model and CFT treatment outcomes
  • Use therapeutic skills to establish and maintain a positive therapeutic relationship conducive to CFT.
  • Assess and formulate psychological distress using the CFT model.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of shame and self-criticism and be able to use appropriate tools in order to assess shame and self-criticism.
  • Understand CFT formulation approaches and collaboratively develop formulations with patients.

This module will also provide 16 hours of group clinical supervision (maximum of four students per group) provided by Dr Ken Goss.

Module 2 - Compassion Focused Therapy Intervention Skills

This module provides 40 credits of 120 credits PG Dip CFT. It is designed to teach the key intervention skills necessary to practice CFT in a clinical setting. These skills will be assessed through the submission of a case study, evaluation of a recorded clinical session and a reflective practice essay following attendance at a CFT Retreat.

This module teaches key therapeutic interventions used by CFT therapists. These include; affect recognition and management skills, mindfulness, developing the soothing system, imagery and two chair work, compassionate inference chaining, compassionate letter writing and thought balancing, and how to apply these in individual and group treatment.

The module teaches students how to use a CFT formulation to understand the therapeutic relationship and how CFT can be used to address difficulties within the therapeutic relationship. The final part of this module introduces students to the use of CFT in both group and individual treatment settings.

Experiential learning will be provided through participation in a CFT Retreat, which facilitates experiential learning and reflective practice. Students will also continue to attend 15 hours of group clinical supervision.

Module outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Utilize specific CFT interventions.
  • Select and implement appropriate CFT interventions based on case formulations and /or clinical presentations in both group and individual treatment.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of key CFT techniques through writing up a case study detailing an intervention.
  • Demonstrate an ability to use the CFT model to increase self-awareness and reflective practice following participation in the CFT retreat.
  • Understand how CFT is used to address problems within the therapeutic relationship.

Module 3 - Compassion Focused Therapy for Specific Populations

This module provides 40 credits of 120 credits PG Dip CFT. It is designed to teach the key intervention skills necessary to practice CFT in a clinical setting with different clinical populations. These skills will be assessed through submission of a case study, evaluation of a recorded clinical session and a case presentation.

This module teaches the application of CFT for specific clinical populations, including working with a range of adult mental health problems, working with children and adolescents, and working with carers. It also explores how students will take forward their personal and professional learning from the Diploma course and how this will be applied to their on-going clinical practice and development. The module will be taught by national and international experts who will provide workshops on CFT for specific populations such as working with children, working in inpatient settings, CFT for anger, using CFT to treat trauma.

Students will also continue to attend 15 hours of group clinical supervision.

Module outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how CFT can be applied within different clinical settings with different populations.
  • Critically evaluate a completed piece of clinical work using a CFT formulation and treatment approach with a patient attending for individual or group based treatment. Utilise specific CFT interventions as taught in this module.
  • Critically consider how they may apply CFT in the longer term in their clinical work.

Fees and funding

2018/19 fees are £8,000.

Learn more about fees and funding.

Entry requirements

The programme is for suitably qualified professionals with a minimum of two year's experience of providing psychological therapies, including one-to-one or group therapy. Students will hold a qualification in one of the following core professions:

  • Clinical, Counselling, Educational, Health or Forensic Psychology and hold HCPC registration as a practitioner Psychologist.
  • Registered Nurse – Mental Health (RMN) or Learning Disability.
  • Psychiatry or General Practitioner, MBChB or MBBS, and usually postgraduate training with membership of MRCGP, MRCP or MRC Psych.
  • Occupational Therapy. BSc Hons Occupational Therapy; MSc Occupational Therapy or Dip C.O.T. and HCPC registered.
  • Counselling, accredited with the BACP, COSCA or FDAP (NCAC), or registered member CPC.
  • Social Work. CQSW, DipSW or BA/BSc Hons Social Work and HCPC registered.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist who hold full therapist accreditation with the BABCP.
  • Art Therapists HCPC registered.
  • Psychotherapy/Psychotherapeutic Counselling with UKCP registration.

How to apply

Applications close on 14 July 2017.

Interviews will take place on 28 July 2017.

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

You will attend lectures and workshops, and undertake individual and group learning tasks. You will also attend small group clinical supervision with Dr Ken Goss, and a three-day Retreat lead by Professor Paul Gilbert OBE and Choden to enhance your personal understanding of CFT.

Students will be expected to work within a clinical setting which is conducive to practicing CFT. If this is not available locally the course may be able to assist students in identifying opportunities for clinical practice.

Assessment methods

Assessments for Module 1 

  • 3000 word Essay on the theory and research underlying CFT.
  • Group presentation on a topic from a list of options, all of which will have been taught on this module (20 minutes)
  • Case presentation to supervision group on a case formulation (formulation)

Assessment for Module 2

  • Case Study (2,500 words)
  • Taped clinical session
  • Reflective practice essay following attendance at the retreat (2,500 words)
  • Assessment for Module 3.

Assessment for Module 3

  • Case Study (2,500 words)
  • Taped Clinical Session
  • Extended case presentation to supervision group

The skills acquired within this course will enhance your existing therapeutic knowledge and skills and clinical outcomes.  The course is also designed to help you to work with complex clinical presentations in individual and group settings. The course may also be a foundation for undertaking research and clinical audit in CFT.

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