Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) and ADHD - A Therapists Self-Reflection
Associate Therapist, Balanced Minds
I am a therapist and coach, recently diagnosed with ADHD. I had spent years struggling to navigate education and employment systems that did not seem to suit me. I felt shame and self-criticism about my lack of success, despite the ability which I knew I had.
Not knowing what to do wasn’t the problem. Full of ideas and creativity, I lacked the focus and motivation to follow through. I could get things done at the last minute, when I got an intense rush of energy. This strategy was effective until I reached menopause when it started to fail.
I’d also lived with chronic pain until the age of 28. Having been advised that my pain was stress related (it wasn’t), I started researching avenues for healing. This led to meditating at an early age, training in a range of therapies, finally as a psychological therapist.
The benefits of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)
While doing this training, I encountered Compassion Focused Therapy which was a game changer. The combination of de-shaming my perceived shortcomings (they were not my fault!) and focusing on the strength, wisdom, and commitment of compassion, became a way for me to accept my past and present challenges. I started to understand that my neurodivergent brain was not wrong, just different, and developed the skills I needed to navigate the world.
I realised that the internal conflicts between my ‘angry’, ‘sad’ and ‘anxious’ parts had the potential to be healed. As I developed the inner strength and wisdom of the compassionate self, I started to feel that I might have a superpower after all.
Compassion Focused Therapy for ADHD
I studied ADHD and understood why each year I desperately struggled to do my tax. I discovered that believing that I had to do everything myself was an unhelpful rule which was limiting and exhausting. I got an accountant, some admin support, started working with a CFT therapist and an ADHD coach.
Therapy eased my negative self-talk and behavioural patterns. I recognised I craved approval and was sensitive to criticism. I constantly pushed myself towards burnout, fuelled by the activation of my threat system, existing in a state of ‘threat-based drive’. I learned that I didn’t have to disconnect from myself and could use the skills of compassion to accept myself and experience safeness. I found my tribe and gained the confidence to be open about my neurodiversity. The experience of being accepted, after a lifetime of ‘masking’ and feeling ‘not enough’, trying to copy others whom I perceived as more successful, has meant a happier and more fulfilled life.
Therapy + Coaching = Compassionate Combination
Coaching helped me organise myself, delegate, develop systems and provided accountability. It meant I could get things done!
Both these approaches were vital, but they would have more effective – and cheaper – if they had been combined.
I realised that this was my calling, combining my coaching skills, with CFT.
I now enjoy helping others with similar challenges to understand and accept themselves, overcome the overwhelm and develop their compassionate superpower and to live a more peaceful and meaningful life.
Jen Wood – Associate Therapist, Balanced Minds
Jen offers remote CFT focused therapeutic coaching for people with ADHD. For more information about Jen click here
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