A key facet of individual counselling that makes it easily applicable to each unique client situation, is the endless options for methodologies the counsellor can use during sessions. If the client is struggling with PTSD, there are methods to help process trauma. If the client is struggling with body image challenges, there may be other methods and strategies best suited to help overcome these personal challenges. One method that has become increasingly popular in recent years is Mindful Self-Compassion Therapy.

Founded by Kristin Neff and Christopher K. Germer, this method brings together mindfulness and self-compassion with the goal of providing strategies that clients can apply in their day-to-day lives to support them in improving their mental wellbeing. This method uses many interventions such as mediation, self-compassion practices and conceptual learning.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the awareness of your presence and the environment around you. Mindfulness also considers the idea of living in the moment, as it is the most clear and simple thing we can focus on and the only thing we can influence. The past has already happened, and the future cannot be predicted. However, it can be difficult not to let our minds get filled with stressful thoughts. Mindfulness is paying particular attention to and practicing being aware of what is happening in the moment. This practice can help promote self-compassion by removing thoughts of what we have experienced or what we will face in the future.

What is Self-Compassion?

A straightforward way to understand self-compassion is the idea of treating yourself with the same level of understanding that you would treat a friend or a loved one. Treating yourself with kindness is just as important, and maybe more important, than being kind to others. Surprisingly most people feel they do not offer themselves the same compassion that they offer to others in their lives.

It can be challenging to support oneself after making a mistake and to chalk it up to a learning experience. Being hard on oneself comes easily, but too much can lead to a decrease in mental and physical well-being. An important part of practicing self-compassion is accepting the fact that no one is perfect, that humans make mistakes and that hard things happen everyone. Suffering is universal. Accepting our flaws promotes understanding and compassion. It adjusts our self-imposed standards and criticisms of what we expect from ourselves.

This Mindful Self-Compassion can increase our capacity for handling hard emotions, decrease self-criticism, foster positive motivation, trust ourselves while gaining a deeper appreciation for ourselves. With Mindful Self-Compassion, the counsellor typically suggests self-compassion and mindfulness techniques that can be incorporate into clients’ routines outside of their sessions.

Some of these interventions might include:


    • Body Scan Mediation: Guiding you to focus on one part of your body at a time and how that one part feels -- moving either from the feet up or the head down slowly focusing on each section of the body.
    • Sensory Focus Mediation: Prompting you to focus on one sense, whether it be touch, taste, hearing, smell, or sight. This can help to keep our minds in the present moment as it is focusing solely on what is affecting that sense in the here and now.
    • Guided meditation: These meditations can be 20-30 minutes long where a voice guides you through an experience. Perhaps, for example, you are walking on a beach, sitting and watching a sunset, or swimming in a warm ocean. Guided meditation can be particularly useful for clients who find it difficult to guide themselves in meditative exercises.

Self-compassion practices

    • Exploring self-compassion through writing: This exercise can be difficult and can bring up unwanted or uncomfortable emotions, but it can be a useful tool to begin to explore self-compassion.
    • Thinking: “How would I treat a friend in this circumstance?” When a friend or loved one is experiencing negative feelings about themselves, how might I treat them? What would I say to them to provide comfort? Write down what you would say. Apply this same kindness and comfort to yourself.
    • Supportive touch: When writing feels too difficult, try supportive touch. An example is holding your hand over your heart and feeling your heartbeat. Another example is holding the side of your face with care. Supportive touch makes us feel comforted even if it is us doing it to ourselves. It may feel strange at first, but your body will soon recognize the comfort it can bring.

Allius has counsellors trained in Mindful Self-Compassion who can help you to foster your own self-compassion and to find mindfulness tools that work best for you. To learn more check out Exploring the Meaning of Self-Compassion and Its Importance

If you are interested in speaking with a counsellor trained in Mindful Self-Compassion, call us at 250-753-0363 or email support@allius.ca