Using Your Compassionate Mind in Psychotherapy
For you to become a more compassionate therapist, follow the details noted below. These preconditions, skills, and practices are required as a baseline for compassionate practice.
- You need the ability to access calmness in an environment of emotional suffering, chaos, or conflict. Most people do this by breathing in calm, slow, deep patterns – and maintaining equanimity in their interpersonal processes.
- You need to understand the relative power of the three main parts of the brain: prefrontal/frontal (executive); reward centers (habits); and, the limbic system (survival, emotions).
- You need to fully understand the relative power of cognition, emotion, and behavior – sequential and complex systemic interactions.
- You need too be skilled in regular mindfulness practices. Regular means regular! No textbook applications without personal experience in mindfulness practice.
- You need to have or cultivate an open, warm, soft-heartedness in dealing with yourself and others.
- You need to be skilled in empathic alliance building with your clients, resting mainly on unconditional positive regard and kindness.
- You need to be skilled in at least one evidence-based therapy in the process of helping.
- Lastly, you need to know the differences between mindfulness ad metallization.
Here are some core differences between mindfulness and metallization processes.
Mindfulness, among other things, includes: Observation with prolonged attention; inner calmness; skill describing what you observe; ability to concentrate your awareness; being nonjudgmental; being nonreactive; and, acting in the best interests of others – placing others before your own self-interests.
Metallization, among other things, includes: recognition of your own metacognition about your own immediate
experience; having mental awareness when change occurs; understanding your emotional experience when interacting with others; reflection on the mind-motivations of others when they behave with you in various ways; using limited theories about the mind-set (motivation) of others when they harm you emotional or physically.
So, you see there are huge differences between the practice of mindfulness an the uses of metallization in your work.
Worksheet on the practice of more compassionate connection with others:
After recognizing what has happened (the why) to motivate you to become more compassionate in your work, respond to the following inquiries.
- WHO is directly involved?
- WHAT will you do behaviorally – your immediate compassionate intention and response?
- WHEN will you do it?
- HOW will you do it – back to the what?
- Can you notice the difference in your inner feeling state as you apply KINDNESS in your interaction?
- WHAT outcome was desired, an what outcome occurred?
To improve your practice of compassionate therapy, obtain more training and supervision. You will also NEED to apply the same compassion to yourself when you suffer. See if you can live with more compassion in your
entire life not just in your work. If you are also a spiritual person, how can you use this quality to improve how you live with/work with compassion? Good luck! In the final analysis, practicing with more compassion will most likely improve your outcomes and your level of personal satisfaction – even happiness.
For more information refer to Gilbert, P. (2009). The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life’s Challenges. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, pp. 421-446. See also Stewart, J. M. (ed.). (2014). Mindful Acceptance and the Psychodynamic Evolution. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, pp. 111-132.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness