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What I love about the way MI and CFT work together!

This is the third and final blog in my "What I love..." series. The first was what I love about Motivational Interviewing (MI), the second was what I love about Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), and this third blog is about my greatest love of all (professionally speaking, of course): bringing together MI and CFT and the way they can be so helpful for each other!


First, CFT is helpful to MI!


In 2013, Professors Bill Miller and Steve Rollnick published the third edition of their book Motivational Interviewing: Helping people change. There was much excitement in the MI community. What would be kept? What would change?? Well, one thing that changed was that compassion was formally added to the MI Spirit, alongside partnership, acceptance and evocation. This was an important addition, and was described by the authors as "...having our heart in the right place." But what did that mean?


Enter CFT with its rich and established, multidimensional sense of compassion and cultivating the compassionate mind. Compassion is a sensitivity to suffering in self and others, with a commitment to try to alleviate and prevent it. And there are many competencies and qualities: sensitivity, sympathy, distress tolerance, empathy, non-judgment, care for well-being, wisdom, strength and courage, a caring-commitment and helpful action. Ok! There is a lot to work with there to understand and develop compassion as part of the MI Spirit and help people change!!


Second, MI is helpful to CFT!


One of Professor Paul Gilbert's great contributions (there are actually so many, and this is just one!) to the science of compassion is an understanding of a person's fears, blocks and resistances to compassion across the three flows: for others, from others, and self-to-self. These various inhibitors get in the way of the compassion motivation. For example, people might feel like others will take advantage of them if they are compassionate, that receiving compassion from someone else makes them weak, or that they themselves don't deserve their own compassion, So in CFT, it is vital to find ways to help people navigate their way through these fears, blocks and resistances, and to discover their facilitators of compassion, the perceived benefits and the motivating factors.


Enter MI, and the beautiful, heartfelt, skillful conversations MI can offer to help people find their way through their own ambivalence and gradually commit to change or action. In the case of compassion and self-compassion, MI offers a framework for exploring fears, blocks and resistances, accepting and validating those reservations, helping people feel heard and understood, and then gently guide them towards exploring facilitators of compassion.


Presenting on MI for CFT for Concept at Palo Alto University, February 2020.
What would you really like to do about compassion or self-compassion in your life? If you were to be more compassionate, how would you go about it? What are your top three reasons for cultivating a compassionate motivation? What makes cultivating compassion really important to you? And let's make a commitment...what will you do?

So there you have it.


CFT can really inform and enhance the way we bring compassion to the MI Spirit, and MI can really assist us in navigating the inhibitors and facilitators of compassion and build compassionate motivation and commitment. In so many ways, they are a perfect match! And that's what I love about the way MI and CFT work together.



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