Compassion as a Transforming Approach

with Professor Paul Gilbert OBE

This presentation will give a brief overview of the core features of compassion, how it is rooted in a particular evolved system with psychophysiological properties that are very useful for helping us with mental health difficulties. We will contrast that with the processes of harsh forms of self-criticism. A brief outline of some of the practises will be offered, and then depending upon volunteers from the audience, there will be a demonstration of how to bring compassion to one’s self-criticism. This will unfold in a series of stages. First we will begin to generate some concepts of a compassionate self. Then we will invite volunteers to explore the nature of their self critical process, and in particular how it functions for them and what would be their fear of giving it up. We then explore the critic in detail but only to the extent that people feel comfortable to do that. We see what sits behind the self critic the fear that it’s covering and then we bring compassion to that fear that sits behind or underneath the critic.

Paul Gilbert, FBPsS, PhD, OBE is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby and honorary visiting Prof at the University of Queensland. Until his retirement from the NHS in 2016 he was Consultant Clinical Psychologist for over 40 years. He has researched evolutionary approaches to psychopathology with a special focus on mood, shame and self-criticism in various mental health difficulties for which Compassion Focused Therapy was developed. He was made a Fellow of the British Psychological Society in 1993, president of the BABCP 2002-2004, and was a member of the first British Governments’ NICE guidelines for depression. He has written/edited 23 books and over 300 papers and book chapters. In 2006 he established the Compassionate Mind Foundation as an international charity with the mission statement: To promote wellbeing through the scientific understanding and application of compassion ( There are now a number of sister foundations in other countries. He was awarded an OBE by the Queen in March 2011 for services to mental health. He established and is the Director of the Centre for Compassion Research and Training at Derby University UK. His latest book is a major edited book with Prof G Simos (2022) Compassion: Clinical practice and Applications (Routledge).

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