Introduction to self-compassion focused work with men who have been sexually abused: A guide for pracititioners
“Every moment presents us with an opportunity to bring compassion into our lives and give it to others. Every time we think a compassionate thought, direct kindness towards another person, relate warmly to ourselves and others, or bring to mind something that inspires our compassionate nature, we plant and nurture the seeds in our minds that will eventually grow into a garden of kindness and compassion (Kolts & Chodron, 2013).”
Men who have been sexually abused as children can find it difficult to offer themselves compassion. They may see it as a weakness, or believe they are not worthy or deserving of compassion. Feelings of shame and perceptions of self-blame can result in self-criticism and self-loathing, and impact the way they relate to themselves and others. While this can offer a potential barrier to compassion, it is also the reason why it is worth doing. Self-compassion is a powerful antidote to shame and self-criticism, and can offer men a new way of understanding and responding to themselves, their experience and their relationships. Self-compassion can interrupt the cycle of shame and provide hope and encouragement for positive change. Practitioners have a valuable opportunity to both model and cultivate compassion for men who have experienced sexual abuse in childhood, and this module will help you know how to get started with this process. It provides information on what self-compassion is (and isn’t), its relevance for men who have experienced sexual abuse, and how to begin the practice of compassion. It will be written primarily from the perspective of Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT), which views compassion as part of the motivational system towards pro-social and affiliative behaviour (including towards the self). Topics to be discussed include:
- How Self-Compassion Can Help
- What is Self-Compassion?
- What self-compassion is not
- Key concepts
- Qualities, skills and competencies
- Fears, blocks, resistances
- How to begin
Note: This eLearning Module is to be read in conjunction with the Living Well web page ‘Introduction to Self Compassion’ which highlights some of the specific struggles experienced by men who have been sexually abused or assaulted. Both the 'Introduction to Self-Compassion' web page and this module were written and developed with the support of Lisa McLean (Psychologist).