Author Topic: Compassion focused therapy  (Read 294 times)

Fiz

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Compassion focused therapy
« on: July 28, 2018, 01:00:45 PM »
I had a full psychological assessment when I was in hospital last year and compassion focused therapy was the treatment the team said I needed. They said that it's my self-hatred and feelings of guilt and failure that is feeding my depression and I need to learn to be more compassionate towards myself. So I had in my head a picture of what the therapy would be like.

The course was said to be 4 theory sessions then a 1-1 interview to discuss whether the 8 week workshops afterwards would be helpful. I've missed the first 2 theory sessions as they're so far away but I'm being allowed to join in at week 3. I'll pay 25 taxi to get there on Tuesday then a friend said she'd pick me up and drive me to the motability garage at the end of the session then I can drive my car home. I'll be given handouts that are from the first two weeks I've missed. (I could never have afforded 50 of taxis each week for 12 weeks of therapy sessions but from week 4 I will have a car).

The therapist phoned me back though and said that in this 3rd theory session on Tuesday we've to take in something that smells in a way that makes you feel compassion. What are they on?! I'm beginning to wonder if I'm on the right course! No smell makes me feel compassion! And how can a smell make me feel different about myself?

Is there some logic here that I'm completely missing?!  >whistle<

oldtone27

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2018, 02:08:14 PM »
Obviously I can't speak for anyone else, but smells can evoke emotions although I do have difficultly with what a 'compassionate' smell would be.

I find newly wetted ground (see general chat thread) or freshly mown grass fresh and invigorating whereas some of the heavier deodorants some folk wear, sickly and depressing.

Smell has certainly been proved useful in awaking people from semi-comotose states so perhaps there is something in what the therapist says. Maybe the point is to just get the clients thinking about something other than their usual concerns.

Anyway I wouldn't dismiss the idea and I hope it helps you if you manage to attend.

neurochick

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2018, 02:37:06 PM »
I know it sounds kinda like hocus but at least go with it and see if you can think of something.  Scent is one of, if not the single most powerful evocative stimulators of feelings, memories and historic emotions.  Simply smelling a particular scent can instantly transport people back many years to a particular event and can induce very powerful feelings, images and memories.   You never know and let's face it, what have you got to lose....?

Here's a standard dictionary definition of compassion: "a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them."   

Can you think of a time or situation when you felt that way? 

Maybe something like a particular soap or bubble bath or body lotion that you associate with a tough time in a family member's life where you felt compassion for them?  It might be easier to think of situations when you felt compassion for someone first and then think about the scent part second.


Monic1511

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2018, 07:15:43 PM »
compassion smells - is that not something like a puppy?  I could be very wrong but that was my immediate thought when I read your post

Fiz

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2018, 09:00:29 AM »
I can't think of a thing that makes me specifically makes me feel compassion. I remember smells from the past invoked sadness and loss or comfort and humour neither of which I smell now so I couldn't take them in. I can't think of any smell that makes me feel compassion that I could take in with me. I'm stumped. The sadness and loss smell could cover compassion too but it's not something I have or could get hold of now.

ally

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2018, 11:44:52 AM »
Maybe, due to being as deaf as I am, I have a very strong sense of smell. I can recognise, and, tell the person what perfume they're wearing.  The smell of  Co co Chanel instantly transports me to when my mum was  alive.  That was  her favourite perfume.  I had to give the remaining  bottles  away,  as it hurt to much to for me to wear it.  Certain aftershaves,  remind me of my husband, and, son.  The smell of pachouli oil, and, I'm 18 again,  dancing the night away  to Cream and other rock bands, as the beat pulsates  through my body.

Certain flowers. Also revoke memories. The smell of lilies, or, decaying roses at a memorial garden, or, funeral for example.  The garden after a rain shower.  Clothes that have been drying outside, have a certain smell of earthiness, and the outdoors.   Hospitals always bring back memories good and bad.  The unique smell of anaesthetic. Memories of a death, or, a birth for example.  The list is endless. I think the smell of hospitals revoke compassion for me.  Sitting with a loved one, knowing they won't last the night. Meanwhile, life goes on, and, the aromas of antiseptic hand washes, and, floor polish from the  hospital lingers  . Sometimes, I Wish I didn't have such a strong sense of smell.  The smell of the unwashed, blocked drains, or, a full nappy isn't something I care to dwell on. 


KizzyKazaer

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2018, 09:31:29 PM »
Yes, there are indeed some odours that one can do without - one of my pet hates is passing someone on the street (or worse, having to queue behind them in the supermarket) who smells of very stale sweat, and not always of the underarm kind  >feeling-sick<  Soap and water really aren't that unaffordable!

Regarding your therapy, Fiz - first, well done for actually getting it in the first place after the struggle you had!  As for the 'compassionate smell' thing, if you really can't rustle something up, just go to the session empty-handed and be totally honest that you couldn't associate any known smell with the emotion of compassion, and objects scented with sadness and loss just aren't available to you right now.  Even that should give the therapist enough to work with if they're doing their job correctly...

Fiz

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2018, 11:31:30 AM »
Ally, would you say that any of those smells you quoted regarding memories were specifically causing you to feel compassion? To me those situations would evoke sadness, loss, pleasure but I'm unsure which is causing you to feel compassion?

Thank you Kizzy, it certainly has been a battle! 50 a week travel would have been impossible for 12 weeks. 600 to access therapy!

I think part of the problem with finding a compassion smell isn't helped by my missing two weeks, I expect what the others have learnt will have helped them feel clearer about what is needed. I think I will be doing what you've suggested and going without anything and just have to explain why. Surely as the point of the course is to learn about compassion you wouldn't expect anyone to walk in on week one knowing all about it and it will be week one for me.

Also I'm not a sensory person. I'm an over thinking logical theoretical person which isn't a good thing when I'm unwell because I believe everything I think!

ally

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2018, 03:09:40 PM »
Since compassion is affinity with other. Feeling for their suffering. Then, I would say a church or a hospital would fit that criteria. You couldn't fail to feel compassion for a young child in pain at a hospital.  Someone praying in a church for example.  I'm not religious.  However, churches have their own smells.  A smell of bygone times.  The earthy smell of a church grave, or, a memorial garden.  Just fit your own uptake of compassion around that.    Take in a pink lily.  Pink Is supposingly the colour of compassion Then, explain your feelings of compassion around that.  Personally, I think they've  made it deliberately hard.  What exactly is the smell of compassion?  It'll be Interesting  to see how others explain it
.

neurochick

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2018, 07:35:17 PM »
i suspect its probably going to be used as a therapy tool as a stimulus for creating a helpful, emotional environment to help people learn and practice self-compassion so just picking something generic that is supposed to be a recognised symbol of general compassion probably won't work. 

I'm guessing because I don't know much about this type of therapy but I'd suspect that the scent has to be personal to you because it will then be used as part of a taught strategy.  I reckon they will ask you to use a smell that you associate with a situation where you felt compassion for others as a practical tool to help stimulate or trigger those same kind of feelings of compassion again.  That might then be used to aid the process of developing one's skills and the right kind of emotional environment to develop and practice compassion for one's self.   I might be completely wrong of course.  If I'm not wrong then I think it would be better to take nothing with you if you truly can't think of anything and simply explain why you have been unable to bring a scent.

I don't know as I say but but from my experience of mental health therapies its far better to just be open and honest about one's feelings and experiences and if you don't have a scent that evokes a situation of compassion then just say that.  Its probably just as revealing and useful to the therapist to simply be honest about the fact that you don't have any such scent or historic experience evoked by a scent.  It tells them just as much about you and your mindset/life experience as turning up with a scent and an associated story will.  And its completely honest so it will be a better platform to proceed with the therapy from.       

Fiz

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2018, 04:34:23 PM »
I suspect there's truth in all the posts here. They didn't explain anything about the scents' meaning today but we used it as part of controlled breathing exercises,  breathing in the scent for a slow count of four and breathing out for a slow count of six so it seems that all they wanted was to add a scent to the calm breathing to add an additional sensory element and I guess what they meant by a scent evoking compassion, was in fact a scent you find enjoyable and can concentrate on the pleasure of it during the exercises. I think they over complicated it by saying the scent needed to evoke a compassion emotion because it just confused me.

This is the 3rd group session having missed the first two due to lack of transport but I watched two of the four hour long videos on YouTube where the therapy founder explains the whys and wherefores of the therapy so actually I think I'm up as far as the others are already.

Only one more group session and then we all have individual appointments with the two clinical psychologists to see whether or not we continue onto the 8 workshops.

They touched on what blocks or prevents us from being kind and compassion towards ourselves and I already know what my blockage is.

I saw my ex assault my eldest son twice when he was 11 or 12 and I had to pull my son to safety. Heaven knows why then that it didn't occur to me that my ex might be physically abusing his step son generally and why I thought those two occasions were one offs. But when my son was 13 I took the children into a refuge because I was terrified of my ex and my eldest cried and said he'd been unable to sleep at night due to fear of his step dad. While in the refuge, we were bullied by other residents and so we returned to our house and my ex moved out. At that time he was telling me he admits all the abuse, will have specialist therapy for perpetrators and was on a charm offensive so (stupidly) I allowed him back. My then 13 year old son has never forgiven me and he's treated me like trash since. I get why. He clearly told me how terrified he was of my ex and yet I still took him back.

I now have a very damaged 29 year old son who still hates me. I see so much damage in him because of how my ex abused him through his childhood and I feel so guilty and totally to blame for the damage caused to my son because I didn't take action to protect him as I should have. My son lives with the emotional pain of his childhood that I had the opportunity to protect him from but I didn't. I failed.

How can I possibly feel any sort of kindness or compassion towards myself when my son feels the emotional pain of his childhood every single day? I don't deserve compassion. There's my block.

KizzyKazaer

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2018, 05:04:15 PM »
And this is precisely why you need this particular therapy - hopefully as it progresses, you can learn to forgive yourself and this may result in your son starting to forgive you too.  You're not the first and won't be the last domestic abuse survivor who's 'taken back' a wrong 'un - don't forget how silver-tongued and manipulative some of them can be (a close relative of mine was married to one, so I've seen it for myself).

IMO, the biggest 'two-finger salute' you can give to your abusive ex is for both you and your son to get through the pain and distress he caused and live a life that means something and isn't permanently clouded by memories of his vileness.   I don't think this is impossible if you have the right help, and this goes for your son too. 

Fiz

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Re: Compassion focused therapy
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2018, 08:10:29 PM »
That is such a lovely thing to say kizzy. And neurochick.

I think you both understand the therapy and where I'm at. In about 8 years with secondary mental health care I am on a psychotherapy course that I was assrssed as needing. Anything else I have done is because groups were running and they thought they'd put me on them. They all did more harm than good. I only went to this city mental health unit last year as neither of my units had beds. It was while in the city until that I had my first psychological assessment and they knew what I needed help with. Had I been detained to my two area units nothing would have changed with no suggestions as they knew nothing about me. But having been to the city unit I was discharged and on a waiting list for compassion focused therapy and 8 months waiting and it turned out to be miles away. I paid for a taxi there today and based on that taxi fare this therapy would have cost me 720 in travel money. But a friend collected me from there and dropped me off at the motability garage and I now have a car on my drive so can make all the other weeks of the therapy.

Looking into this therapy it does seem to address everything I think and believe about myself. Part of me feels the beliefs are so entrenched can they possibly be changed? Plus if I  continue to see the emotional scars and anger in my son will I be able to sustain any self compassion I've managed to cultivate but for the first time in 8 years I know I'm on the right course. If the motability car hadn't arrived now I wouldn't be on it all so I'm thankful that I'm on it and YouTube has allowed me to catch up missed sessions.

And the group is all women which is massively helpful. It remains to be seen how the course helps me but I know it's targetting my problems and issues and that's a big step forward and there's hope here. I wonder if my life had been different had I had a psychological assessment soon after referal to my CMHT and put on the right therapy soon after if my care might have caused the NHS a hell of a lot less money. But I'm assuming here this therapy will sort me out which I don't know. But it is looking at very relevant issues and I've  never thought that with any other group I've been told to attend.