What a wonderful book! I'm not a clinician or anything, I just bought this in the interest of self-help.
It's a bit dry scientific, but I'm quite a sciency person so I suppose I like that. There's no waffle! It presents a brief-ish explanation of how the brain works and then a bunch of different exercises you can do. The best thing is, these exercises really work (if you remember to do them). I've been doing self-help stuff for about 18 months now, and of all the books I've read this is one of the most effective. I have a lot of hope for the future of CFT and hopefully Paul Gilbert's ideas will spread and help make everyone happy.
I've also got his other book, "The Compassionate Mind", which is more self-helpy, but it's really waffly (600 pages!) and has lots of references to politics, sex, relationships, etc. This book ("distinctive features") really cuts to the chase and presents what CFT is all about in a much clearer way. If you're interested in CFT I'd recommend getting this one first, and then if you want more detail on the exercises or want to read more general philosophical musings about the concepts, get the other one.
I love this book. I read it for the second time now with some work and practice behind me and I can see how far I've come. Perhaps the only thing in the entire book that doesn't resonate entirely with me is the philosophy that we just find ourselves here. From a more spiritual and Christian perspective I like to believe we all have a unique destiny and purpose. Having said this - I think the book greatly enhances this search by encouraging compassion and compassionate behaviour towards self and others. As the author talks about fear being a block to compassion especially to self compassion I can warmly recommend the beautiful book 'Healing Fear' by Edmund Bourne to anyone interested.
As a long time Buddhist who struggled with meta and loving kindness meditation I know understand why. I also now understand why the brief CBT sessions I had failed to resonant with me. For me Paul Gilbert's book provides the missing link that has alluded me so long. A beautiful book that makes so much sense.
I always thought I was doing self compassion right, until I read this book and realised that all those positive affirmations were being spoken to my inner self like a computer or automaton - ie I knew they meant something but I never really felt it.. well now I know why and what I can do about it - THANK YOU! the book is extremely well laid out in short chapters so easy to read on the tube and easy to grasp the concepts. a cert for anyone studying mindfulness or psychotherapy.
I love this book. It is intelligent. Well grounded in research. Ambitious in its breadth. Very well written/edited. Sometimes briefly goes off on tangents, perhaps, but this isn't a big issue. This isn't a self-help book, yet after reading umpteen self-help books and 18 months of counselling, I find this book helps me to understand stuff in a (holistic sort of) way that the waffley self-help stuff really doesn't. This book is primarily written for therapists, but I think many patients/clients can derive benefit from it. Inevitably they may be the type who are "stuck in their heads" for whom reading stuff like this is fuel to further rumination (& self-criticism)! The book advises therapists to explain the 3 circles model to patients/clients to help them use it to improve their understanding and cognition, and help them to make changes in their lives (and indeed this is my personal experience - that theory can help improve understanding, and a move to change). I feel the book does risk losing sight of the wood for the trees at times, so I recommend watching Chris Irons' presentation at Stanford University on youtube, which gives a very good overview of CFT. In fact I bought this book after watching Chris's presentation. Also, I don't think I would have been able to read or fully understand CFT/this book without having already done lots of counselling and lots of other reading already. I wouldn't have had enough knowledge to engage with it. I would like to see a follow-up book that (a) presents more case studies/examples, (b) doesn't feel the need to ground itself in masses of academic theory, and (c) - perhaps most importantly - focuses on the changes that people have made, and how compassion was key to making those changes. With its focus on the academic research, this book can inevitably feel a little dry in its effort to "make the case for" CFT versus other techniques. The book talks about emotions/feelings throughout, but the actual significance/POWER of emotions/feelings to actually making life changes is not well conveyed, perhaps, though I'm not sure any book can do that. Of course, this is the role of counselling... books simply cannot replace the role of counselling! PS. I previously bought Paul's book "Mindful compassion". I didn't get on with that one. It's a totally different, more waffley, style. So don't be put off if, like me, that one didn't work for you.
This book is very readable. Paul Gilbert explains very clearly why conventional CBT often fails to work, and grounds his compassion focused therapy in research, and also neuro- science. I found that this book was very clear and very informative. For me the most important insigts in the book, were his recognition that our Brains have different processing systems, and that different therapies can access different systems. Conventional CBT utilises the neo-cortex, and acts as a regulator of emotions, while more experiential therapies, ( MBCT) access other processing parts of the brain. I also realised as well, how I can better intergrate some CBT ideas into my own therapy practise.
One of my main objections to CBT was that the theory that explained it, ( eg distorted cognitions causing psychological disturbance) to be deaply flawed. This of course is true. However the insight that CBT techniques can regulate, difficult emotions, was very useful since sometimes regulations of difficult emotional states canrepresent a quick fix, when processessing is not possible. I found this a very good read, and feel that CFT represents an advanced form of therapy within the CBT Family of therapies.