Balanced Minds is 10 Years Old!
Way back in 2012, three of us – Charlie, Korina and Chris – were colleagues and friends working in a busy NHS trust in East London. Whilst we loved our jobs, we were struck by a reality – that although our clients were finding the ideas and practices of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) helpful, we were acutely aware that we were only able to help a small number of people.
Over a number of weeks and months, we started to flesh out a shared vision: to develop an organisation with the intention to spread the ideas and practices of self-compassion and Compassion Focused Therapy. To allow people access to CFT who might never otherwise encounter it.
And then on 24th October 2012, Balanced Minds was born!
So how have things gone over the years? Have we got any further forward with our compassion mission? We took some time to look back, reflect and take stock of where we’ve got to
Providing Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)
From our small beginning as three therapists, providing 5 sessions of CFT a week, we’ve grown a lot over the years. As far as we’re aware, we’re now the single biggest provider of CFT anywhere in the world!
We now have a team of 30 therapists providing approximately 150 sessions of CFT every week. Here’s some of the wonderful, hard working therapists currently working with us
Supervising therapists in CFT
Whilst we have our growing team of CFT therapists at Balanced Minds, we’ve also tried to provide as much supervision as possible to other therapists and clinicians who were interested in developing their own skills in CFT. Over the years, we’ve provided CFT-supervision to over 500 therapists!
We are proud to have supported the spread of the CFT message with clinicians based across the world, including the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Russia, Romania, Turkey, Israel, Australia, China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Africa to name just a few!
Find out more about supervision here
Training clinicians in CFT
We’ve also tried to spread the CFT model by providing training for other clinicians. Either through Balanced Minds courses, or doing workshops for other training organisations, we’ve provided training for over 20,000 people! We’ve also been on our travels a lot, and provided training in over 20 different countries! You can check out our current training offerings here
We’ve developed good working relationships with many different organisations, including those in Healthcare (e.g. NHS UK, HSE Ireland), Social Services (e.g. Royal Borough of Greenwich), Universities (Stanford, UCL, King’s), Charities (e.g. NSPCC, Samaritans), and various Professional Bodies (e.g. BPS, RCGP, RCPsych)
8 Week Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) course for the General Public
Although we’re proud of how we’ve provided lots of high quality CFT sessions, we were still aware that our reach was limited to those who wanted – and could access and afford – individual therapy. In 2017, we decided that there might be another viable way of helping people, and we developed the 8 Week ‘Compassionate Mind Training’ course for the general public.
This 8 week CMT group was specifically developed to increase access to the ideas and practices of CFT, but to provide them in a skills training group, rather than as a therapy.
So far we’ve had hundreds of people attend our courses, and we even published a research paper highlighting the benefits from attending the course.
Train the Trainer
Whilst the 8 week CMT course has increased access to the ideas of CFT, we recognised that we were still limited to us running these groups. In 2018 we started supervising other clinicians to run the course, and in 2021 developed our official CMT ‘Train the Trainer’ course to help other clinicians learn about our 8 week course and how to run it.
You can find out more info about this here
To date, we’ve had over 130 people take this course, with participants from 20 different countries!
Globally we now have people running courses for the general public, teachers, healthcare workers, social services, people with physical health problems to mention a few.
Online CFT-inspired courses
The advent of Covid-19 obviously caused a huge increase in psychological distress and suffering, and provided a challenge to everyone about how to continue working online, instead of face-to-face. Whilst we similarly adapted our therapy sessions to move online, it also provided inspiration to consider how online formats might provide another useful way to disseminate the ideas and practices of CFT.
In 2020 we started to develop two online self-help courses:
- A self-guided version of our 8 week Compassionate Mind Training group
- A short, 4 week self-guided self-compassion course
These courses have gone on to be a useful way of spreading the CFT message. To date, over 1200 people have taken these courses in just over 18 months! Furthermore, we’ve also published research showing the positive outcomes that people experienced after taking the 4 week online self-compassion course. You can read about the findings here and here.
We all know that mobile phone apps have become a feature of our daily lives. In 2019, one of our directors (Dr Chris Irons) was approached to translate his co-authored book ‘The Compassionate Mind Workbook’ into an app. After lots of hard work, in 2021 the Self-Compassion App was released as the first CFT and self-compassion app on the market. So far the app has been a roaring success, with an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars from 380 ratings on the app store!
Take a look at the app here
CFT Videos & Podcasts
One of our directors, Charlie Heriot-Maitland, was the creative mind behind the wonderful CFT video ‘Compassion for Voices’ (2015), introducing how Stuart benefited from the ideas and practices of CFT to help him with distressing voices he was hearing. On YouTube alone, this video has been watched over 275,000 times!
We’ve also been involved in other CFT videos and numerous podcasts talking about the ideas and benefits of CFT!
Books and Book Chapters
Between the Balanced Minds team, we’ve been involved in publishing 6 CFT related books. These include Charlie’s recent ‘Relating to Voices using Compassion Focused Therapy’ and Chris’s ’The Compassionate Mind Workbook’, ‘Compassion Focused Therapy for Difficult Emotions’ and ‘CFT from the Inside Out’. These books have reached over 30,000 people and helped to continue to get the CFT message spread far and wide
Added to this, we’ve contributed many book chapters, including chapters on CFT formulation, CFT for voices and CFT for difficult emotions
Although not easy at times, we’ve tried to keep adding to the research literature on Compassion Focused Therapy, and some of the key processes linked to it. Over the past years, we’ve been involved in the publication of approximately 30 research papers, including research on psychosis, depression, relationship quality, rumination, shame and compassion in the general population. We’ve got lots of research projects currently on the go, and hope to continue this passion for many years to come!
Here’s to the next 10…
We’ve noticed that coming up to our 10 year anniversary, we haven’t always been the best at keeping track of some of the accomplishments over the years. We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved, and grateful for the opportunity that we’ve had to spread CFT as far and wide as possible.
We’re not done yet though, and we’re still as keen and enthusiastic as ever to continue finding ways to bring the wonderful ideas and practices from CFT to the world! So keep an eye out on our website, mailing list, blog and social media to see some of the new things that we’ll be working on!
Oh, and finally, given it’s our anniversary, we want to give some birthday gifts to you all (discounts will be valid until the 30th October 2022). We’ve got some choices for you:
- 50% off our online, self-guided compassion courses – use discount code anniversary50 at checkout
- 25% off our upcoming training courses (CFT intro, CMT 8-week live, CMT train-the-trainer) – use discount code anniversary25 at checkout
- 10% off Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland’s new book – see here for further details
- 50% off the Self-Compassion App for therapists – use this link here: https://www.selfcompassion.me/therapist-program
Here’s to the next 10 years….
The Balanced Minds Team