The Compassion PDA - Pre, During & After

The Compassion PDA is a intervention that we can use in CFT to help people tackle upcoming situations that they are likely to get caught in their threat systems about. 

PDA stands for Pre, During and After, and gets people to consider across three different time periods – pre to a difficult situation, during a difficult situation and after a difficult situation – what might be happening in their threat system if it were in control.

After that, we look to the idea of pattern switching – of helping people to move from their threat mind to the support and wisdom of their compassionate minds. Here, after engaging with the compassionate self, we get people to consider the three time  zones again – pre to a difficult situation, during a difficult situation and then after a difficult situation – but this time considering how the compassionate self would deal with each instead. 

The Compassion PDA

Taken from The Compassionate Mind Workbook, you can download a blank version of the form here (or look at it below), and also look through a completed example here or below 

If you’d like some help to work with gaining confidence with self-compassion practices, try some of our self-compassion courses here

The Compassion PDA

The Compassion PDA - Completed Example

Here’s an example of a fully worked up Compassion PDA. You can use this to get a sense of how each step of the Compassion PDA looks. 

You can do this exercise in two major ways:

  1. Complete all three steps (pre, during and after) for threat system first, then shifting to the three steps of the compassionate mind (pre, during and after) remembering to warm up the compassionate self first before doing this
  2. Complete the pre phase first, initially for threat mind before then engaging in brief compassionate self and looking at the same phase from the compassionate mind’s point of view. Then do the same for the ‘during’ and ‘after’ phase.

These handouts have all been adapted from the wonderful work of Paul Gilbert – find out more at