Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 90 Issue 2 (June 2017), Pages 125-243

Therapist competencies necessary for the delivery of compassion‐focused therapy: A Delphi study (pages 156-176)


Compassion‐focused therapy (CFT) has shown promising results for a range of clinical presentations. This study explored the therapeutic competencies required to deliver CFT and organized these into a coherent framework.


The Delphi method was used to explore and refine competencies for delivering CFT in three rounds of data collection.


The first round involved interviews with 12 experts in CFT. Data were analysed using template analysis to generate a draft competency framework. The main competencies were used to create a survey for rounds two and three involving CFT experts and practitioners. Data collected from the surveys were used to refine the competencies.


The CFT competency framework (CFT‐CF) that was produced comprised 25 main competencies within six key areas of competence. The areas were as follows: competencies in creating safeness, meta‐skills, non‐phase‐specific skills, phase‐specific skills, knowledge and understanding and use of supervision. The main competencies included several subcompetencies specifying knowledge, skills and attributes needed to demonstrate the main competence. Overall, there was consensus on 14 competencies and 20 competencies exceeded an 80% agreement level.


Some of the CFT competencies overlapped with existing therapies, whilst others were specific to CFT. The CFT‐CF provides useful guidance for clinicians, supervisors and training programmes. Further research could develop the CFT‐CF into a therapist rating scale in order to measure the outcome of training and to assess treatment fidelity in clinical trials.

Practitioner points

  • The compassion‐focused therapy competency framework (CFT‐CF) identifies therapeutic competencies that overlap with existing treatments as well as those specific to compassion‐focused therapy (CFT).
  • The CFT‐CF builds guidance for the competencies required to deliver CFT in a range of clinical settings.
  • The CFT‐CF provides guidance for those training CFT therapists.
  • The CFT‐CF could be used as a basis to develop a therapist rating scale.

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