Blog » Post

Compassion for Voices Video: A Tale of Courage and Hope

Compassion is the courage to descend into the reality of human experience. —Paul Gilbert, founder of Compassion Focused Therapy

This quote appears toward the end of a fantastic, very moving animated short-film that psychologist, Dr. Charlie Heriot-Maitland, worked on with animator Kate Anderson. It is the story of Stuart who experiences internal voices that criticize him, frighten, and overwhelm him, and of his journey of gaining confidence; of learning to feel calmer, soothed, safe; and of learning to work with these voices in a way that helps him to do things he wants (and needs) to do his life. The approach Stuart utilizes is one in which he doesn’t try to get rid of the voices but instead has compassionate dialogues with them.

The film illustrates three major emotion systems humans have, ways in which these systems get activated, as well as ways in which one can learn to work with them. These systems are often referred to in compassion-focused therapy as “the three circles model” and, although somewhat of an oversimplification, this model is one many people find to be a very useful way of both reflecting on their experiences and on helping them to work with them. It is something I teach formally in compassion-focused therapy groups and workshop presentations, as well as introducing at some point to many people who are seeing me for individual therapy.

The film is narrated by Elanor Longden (whom you may remember from my blog post, The Voices in My Head: TED Talk by Elanor Longden) and Rufus May. Although the film was written with psychosis in mind, its applicability extends far beyond this.

I am savouring the talents and efforts of all the people who were involved in its creation, and everything that has gone before and led to this.



Here is the link for where you can view the video on the King’s College (London) website, as well as read about the Compassion for Voices project. “Compassionate Voices is a Cultural Institute at King’s project in collaboration with the Department of Psychology and animator, Kate Anderson.” (Quote excerpted from here.)

I am left with the words, courageous and inspiring.