The Compassionate Mind Approach to Recovering from Complex PTSD

Those who have been repeatedly traumatised at the hands of others have many challenges to face as they discover a life without trauma and learn how to live in a mind that can flourish.  Predominant issues of self- blame, self- loathing, lack of trust, interpersonal difficulties and struggles to regulate threat-based emotions are prevalent in therapy.  These difficulties are often described as Complex PTSD.

Effective treatments of interpersonal trauma suggest phased based approaches for Complex PTSD (Cloitre, 2010) yet the precise ingredients of the phases are still debated.  Key challenges for clients are to discover that their lives are not of their making, that they are not to blame for their traumas and that they can take responsibility to act and feel differently. Phased based treatments need to address these issues with effective therapeutic intervention.

Recent expert consensus (published by the UK Psychological Trauma Society2017) recommends compassion focussed therapy as part of a phased treatment approach and this workshop explores the use of compassion focused therapy to treat those with Complex PTSD.  Compassionate resilience can enhance affect regulation, interpersonal functioning, problem solving and the ability to hold trauma memories with a caring compassionate mind.   Compassionate resilience enhances feelings of self- soothing and safeness in these memories and reduces self -critical maintenance cycles by developing compassionate self- talk.  It helps the development of the capacity to self soothe to those who feel deeply shamed about who they are and what they have been through, as a precursor to trauma memory work.

Compassion focused therapy was developed by Professor Paul Gilbert (2005,2009). The explicit goal is to develop, access and stimulate positive affect associated with self-soothing in the mind and body of the patient in order to promote an inner sense of psychological safeness (Gilbert, 2005).


• Lee, D.A. (2015) Case conceptualisation in complex PTSD: integrating theory with practice. In Tarrier, N. (Eds). Case Formulation in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: The treatment of challenging cases. Routledge. London
• Waite, F. Knight, M. & Lee, D.A. (2015): Self-Compassion and Self-Criticism in Recovery in Psychosis: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Study. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol 71, 12.
• Lee, D.A (2012). The compassionate mind approach to recovering from trauma, using compassion focussed therapy. Constable & Robinson. London
• Lawrence, V. and Lee. D.A. (2012). Exploration of people’s experiences of compassion focused therapy.
• Lee, D.A. (2005) The perfect nurturer: A model to develop compassion within cognitive therapy. Compassion and psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. Routledge, London.


Deborah Lee

Dr Deborah Lee is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Head of Berkshire Traumatic Stress Service and South Central Veterans Service. She is also an honorary Senior Lecturer at University College London.  She is author of the Compassionate-Mind Guide to Recovering from Trauma and PTSD: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Overcome Flashbacks, Shame, Guilt, and Fear (2013). New Harbinger, New York.

Dr Lee has worked in the field of trauma for 25 years and specialises in the treatment of Complex PTSD.  Her particular area of clinical and research interest is in shame based PTSD and self-criticism. She has pioneered the use of developing compassionate resilience as part of a phased based treatment approach to complex PTSD. She has widely contributed to the dissemination of her clinical knowledge through writing and delivering over 100 clinical workshops and talks in North America and Europe.

Additional Information

Cancellation & changes policy

If you cancel more than 14 days prior to your booked event, we will refund your fee minus a charge of 15% to cover our administration costs. We regret that cancellations 14 days or less before the booked event cannot be refunded or changed/transferred.

If you wish to change/transfer your booking after confirmation we will do our best to accommodate you if you notify us 14 days prior to your booked event, and if there is space to do so. However there will be an administration charge of £15 per change/transfer.


Workshops often contain clinical material. This is always anonymised as far as possible but delegates are none the less reminded to respect confidentiality.

All that is discussed in your therapy sessions will be treated as confidential, with the following exceptions.
We are required to seek supervision by our professional body (The British Psychological Society or equivalent) as a means of ensuring good practice. We will usually inform your referrer of your progress, but the details that we disclose will be discussed with you. We do have a statutory obligation to break confidentiality under rare circumstances, namely, if we believe that a client is of danger to themselves or to others (under the Mental Health Act, 2001) or if we believe that a child is at actual risk of physical or sexual abuse (The Children Act, Section 47, 1989).

If we felt that it would be helpful to request additional medical, social or legal information, we could only do this with your consent. Similarly, should another medical, social or legal professional request information from us, we would not release this without your consent.


OCTC makes every effort to ensure that this programme is delivered as advertised. However, should a presenter have to cancel, we will endeavour to find another suitable presenter. We will inform attendees as soon as is reasonably practical and, if requested, will offer a refund. In the rare event that we are unable to substitute a presenter, we may cancel a workshop and refund payments already made by attendees. OCTC will not refund travel and accommodation costs that attendees may incur.
All the workshops in this programme are carried out by highly experienced therapists and trainers. The individual presenter is responsible for the content of the workshop and any views expressed do not necessarily represent those of OCTC.
Although highly informative, none of the open workshops or workshop series confer a formal qualification or assurance of competence in CBT (or a specialist area of CBT) since we are unable to assess attendee competency within the training event. However, credit and award-bearing courses that lead to formal qualifications are offered by OCTC in conjunction with the University of Oxford. More about these courses is available on our website

Levels of competence

Before booking a place on a workshop, please ensure that it is pitched at the appropriate level of competence for you. The guide to levels is as follows:


Basic workshops are for people from a variety of backgrounds, who have at least one year’s clinical experience. Cognitive behavioural knowledge is not necessary for attendance at these workshops, though in practice, a number of attendees will have some skills in the area, and are refreshing/updating their knowledge.


Intermediate workshops are directed towards people who already have knowledge of CBT, and experience in using cognitive formulations and treatment methods – for instance, they are able to identify and test automatic thoughts, and design behavioural experiments. Most participants will be using CBT as part of their clinical practice, and may still be acquiring new CBT skills.


Advanced courses are directed towards those professionals who use CBT routinely as part of their clinical practice. They have probably undertaken a significant number of training courses and/or workshops, and use a broad range of cognitive behavioural strategies to work with a range of presentations at varying levels of complexity.

Making reservations

Bookings can only be considered confirmed after we have received your online registration or application form and payment (or invoicing details, including an official purchase order document). Please note that registration to workshops closes 7 days prior to the event date.

If you are booking a workshop place for someone else, you must complete your own details in the billing field, but ENTER THE WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS NAME/ADDRESS in the shipping field. If you wish to order items using a paper order form instead of online, you can view or download an order form in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. Once downloaded, print it out, fill it in, and send off with your payment [cheque made payable to OXFORD HEALTH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST] to the address on the form.


The cost of the workshops includes hot drinks on arrival, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, but not usually lunch unless stated. However, for workshops that do include lunch, if you have any special dietary requirements please let us know at the time of application.

Special needs

We welcome applications from diverse backgrounds. If you have any particular needs, please contact us
prior to booking.