Can Compassion Be Trained?

Rich Simon

In my early days of psychotherapy, anything that so much as looked like silent, contemplative meditation practice was relegated to the fringes of our field, displaced by the popularity of intellectualizing, narrative-based approaches. At the time, I never would have guessed that mindfulness would become the buzzword and conference staple that it is today.

Yet, even as mindfulness gains mainstream acceptance as a therapeutic tool, the definition of what mindfulness actually is remains in flux. After all, mindfulness practices are largely informed by Eastern wisdom traditions that are suspicious of the kind of naming and verbalizing we cling to in the West. But as State of the Art 2013 presenter Chris Germer—co-editor of the landmark volume Mindfulness and Psychotherapy—notes, psychotherapists are interested more than ever in embracing a traditional spiritual virtue once rarely discussed in the academic world of evidence-based practice—self-compassion.

In this clip from the brand new State of the Art dialogue between Diana Fosha, originator of Accelerated Dynamic Experiential Psychotherapy (ADEP), and Chris, he explains how the qualities of focused awareness, immediate presence, and compassion can be trained and brought into the therapeutic relationship.


This short clip just scratches the surface of what a delight it was to get a feel for the way Chris and Diana embody the quality of “nowness” and immediate presence that a growing number of therapists are incorporating into their practices. Titled “The Now Moment,” their dialogue is one of four premiere State of the Art events that explore the present and future of our field from the point of view of leading experts. The others include:

  • “Does Neuroscience Really Matter?” with Dan Siegel and Rick Hanson

  • “Commitment and its Challenges” with Esther Perel and Bill Doherty

  • “Treating Trauma: A 30 Year Perspective” with Mary Jo Barrett and Dick Schwartz


Not only will you have an opportunity to hear from these practitioners about the current state and future possibilities of psychotherapy, you’ll also be able to engage with them and your colleagues using our comment boards and community features. Stay tuned to learn more about ways you can take part in this ongoing conversation about psychotherapy’s future.

State of the Art 2013
Starting November 4-8 And On Demand

Click here now for all the details.

Topic: Mindfulness | Trauma

Tags: conversation | Dan Siegel | Esther Perel | experiential psychotherapy | focused awareness | Mary Jo Barrett | meditation | meditation practice | mindful | neuroscience | practices | psychotherapists | psychotherapy | Rick Hanson | state of the art 2013 | therapists | virtual conference

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