Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy

Mindfulness-Based Practices for Healing and Transformation

Tim Desmond (Author)

With a Foreword by Richard J. Davidson

Overview | Contents

Applying the art and science of self-compassion to day-to-day therapy work.

This lucidly written guide integrates traditional Buddhist teachings and mindfulness with cutting-edge science from several distinct fields—including neurobiology, cognitive neuroscience, psychotherapy outcome research, and positive psychology—to explain how clinicians can help clients develop a more loving, kind, and forgiving attitude through self-compassion.

The practice of self-compassion supports effective therapy in two vital ways: (1) It helps clients become a source of compassion for themselves; and (2) it helps therapists be happier and generate more compassion for their clients.
Researchers now understand that self-compassion is a skill that can be strengthened through deliberate practice, and that it is one of the strongest predictors of mental health and wellness. The brain’s compassion center, which neuroscientists call the Care Circuit, can be targeted and fortified using specific techniques.

Filled with illuminating case examples, Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy shows readers how to apply self-compassion practices in treatment. The first two chapters illuminate what self-compassion is, the science behind it, and why it is so beneficial in therapy. The rest of the book unpacks practical clinical applications, covering not only basic clinical principles but also specific, evidence-based techniques for building affect tolerance, affect regulation, and mindful thinking, working with self-criticism, self-sabotage, trauma, addiction, relationship problems, psychosis, and more, and overcoming common roadblocks.

Readers do not need to have any background in mindfulness in order to benefit from this book. However, those that do will find that self-compassion practices have the capacity to add new layers of depth to mindfulness-based therapies such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • November 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-71100-4
  • 5.8 × 8.6 in / 256 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“The wonderful insights, vignettes and wise teachings sprinkled throughout Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy will be of great benefit to any clinician who wishes to incorporate compassion practices into his/her work. However, readers do not need any background in mindfulness in order to benefit from this book, since Desmond offers exceptionally clear, accessible and insightful guidance in how to facilitate deep transformation for a wide range of emotional sufferings. What really makes this book unique is to show how at-home practices can emerge naturally from a mindful and compassionate co-exploration of the client’s experience. I heartily recommend this book for any clinician who wishes to more deeply integrate mindfulness and psychotherapy.” — Metapsychology Online Reviews

“Desmond describes mindfulness and self-compassion in a way that is useful for the neophyte or well informed. . . . [His] case studies wonderfully demonstrate not only a straightforward way of working with clients, but also how to work past the defenses the client uses to maintain their ‘story.’ . . . I highly recommend this book for practitioners at any level. The ideas apply across the board from client’s to therapist’s mental health and wellness.” — The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter

“Vividly described vignettes from the author’s therapeutic work with clients, and an excellent review of the research interweave in this book. The author is a gifted storyteller, and his writing is easy and compelling to read. . . . He brings each client to life with affection and insight, and offers a simple step-by-step process for therapists to use each vignette as a guide. . . . He shares original practices he has created, ancient Buddhist practices he has adapted, and practices created by modern teachers.” — The Mindfulness Bell

“[I]n its integration of Buddhist philosophies with evidence-based scientific findings, this book offers a clear and heartfelt examination of the power of self-compassion in building the resilience needed to cope with suffering and achieve an enduring sense of happiness. Moreover, it comes as a much-needed, kind and gentle reminder for therapists to tend to their own emotional needs in order to provide improved service to their clients.” — Somatic Psychotherapy Today

“This book is intended especially for clinicians, but can also be useful for researchers, teachers and students at all levels of expertise. I heartily recommend it both for clinicians who wish to build the capacity for self-compassion in their clients as well as themselves, and therefore more deeply integrate mindfulness and psychotherapy, and also as a valuable tool for classroom use to facilitate discussions for any classes in clinical psychology.” — Metapsychology Online Reviews

“[S]elf-compassion and compassion toward others allows us to strategically empower our clients — and it also allows us to help ourselves cope with the stressors and duties of the profession. . . . [Desmond] does a good job of providing general tools that therapists can easily incorporate into their sessions.” — PsychCentral

“[A] very practical guide for therapists on why and how to include working with their self-compassion, and that of their clients, in therapy. . . . I expect that this book will appeal to a wide range of therapists, including those who already use mindfulness in their practice.” — Private Practice

“This book is an extraordinarily practical and useful guide to the importance of self-compassion in psychotherapy. It is also a 'how-to' manual of simple practices that can be used to kindle the development of self-compassion. . . . [Desmond's] wonderful insights, vignettes, and wise teachings . . . will be of great benefit to any clinician who wishes to incorporate compassion practices in his or her work.” — From the Foreword by Richard J. Davidson, PhD, Founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“This book shows us why self-compassion is at the heart of therapeutic healing, and how to integrate compassion training into clinical practice. A long time meditator and skilled clinician, Tim Desmond offers exceptionally clear, accessible, and insightful guidance in how to facilitate deep transformation while addressing a spectrum of emotional suffering.” — Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge

“In this groundbreaking book, Tim Desmond takes readers on a compelling journey to the heart of both mindfulness and psychotherapy. He offers clear principles and intriguing examples for how to integrate self-compassion into relationship-based, individual therapy. A unique contribution is showing how at-home practices can emerge naturally from a mindful and compassionate co-exploration of the client's experience. This book is written in an authentic voice that reflects the author's sincere commitment to his clients and to meditation practice. Highly recommended for clinicians who wish to more deeply integrate mindfulness and psychotherapy.” — Christopher Germer, PhD, author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion

“Masterfully written, this book is a timely treasure trove of practical tools and exquisite examples of how to incorporate self-compassion practices into every moment of the therapeutic process. Tim Desmond expertly weaves together ancient teachings and modern insight into a clear, in-depth road map for the integration of two powerful paradigms of healing and transformation.” — Linda Graham, MFT, psychotherapist and author of Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being

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