What is Compassion Cultivation Training?

Compassion Cultivation training - CCT©

is an eight-week course developed in the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine. The program is designed to develop the qualities of compassion, empathy, and kindness for oneself and for others. CCT integrates traditional contemplative practices with contemporary psychology and scientific research on compassion. The CCT protocol was developed at Stanford University by a team of contemplative scholars, clinical psychologists, and researchers.

Compassion is a process that unfolds in response to suffering. It begins with the recognition of suffering, which gives rise to thoughts and feelings of empathy and concern. This, in turn, motivates action to relieve that suffering.     

Humans have a natural capacity for compassion. However, everyday stress, social pressures and life experiences can make it difficult to fully express this capacity. Each of us can choose to nurture and grow the compassionate instinct, like a plant that is carefully cultivated from a seed. This process requires patience, steady care, proper tools, and a supportive environment.

The process of cultivating compassion involves training our own minds, developing specific skills in how we relate to others, and ourselves and intentionally choosing compassionate thoughts and actions.

In CCT, the training process includes:

  • Daily meditation practices to develop loving kindness, empathy, and compassion.

  • A two-hour weekly class that includes lecture, discussion, meditation, and in-class exercises.

  • Real-world “homework” assignments to practice compassionate thoughts and actions.

In this course, individuals will learn how to:

  • Increase kindness and compassion for themselves and others

  • Develop profound levels of serenity, resilience, and creativity

  • Calm the mind and direct thoughts more positively

  • Sharpen their ability to focus and pay attention

  • Access a variety of self-care skills and techniques

“Fear inhibits our natural compassionate instinct"

Thupten Jinpa. Principal Author, Compassion Cultivation Training.

Why Cultivate Compassion?
Cultivating compassion goes beyond feeling more empathy and concern for others. It develops the strength to be with suffering, the courage to take compassionate action, and the resilience to prevent compassion fatigue. These qualities support a wide range of goals, from improving personal relationships to making a positive difference in the world. Compassion cultivation can also support one’s own health, happiness, and wellbeing. Preliminary research suggests that CCT and similar programs can increase self-compassion and self-care, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and enhance connection with others. CCT can improve compassion for oneself, for others, and being the recipient of compassion (Jazaieri et al., 2013). Furthermore, CCT has been shown to improve affect, emotion regulation, and mindfulness (Jazaieri et al., 2014), and reduce some forms of mind wandering while increasing caring behaviors for oneself and others (Jazaieri et al., 2016).

Who is encouraged to attend?
Compassion Cultivation Training is designed to support anyone who wants to cultivate compassion for themselves and for others. People working in a wide range of professions and life contexts can benefit from this program. This includes: parents and caregivers, educators, healthcare professionals and therapists, executives and managers, business professionals, public service leaders and employees, individuals seeking to increase awareness and mindfulness.

Continuing Education (CE) Credits:
CE credits are available for Psychologists, LCSWs, LPCCs, LEPs, LMFTs, and Nurses.* Learn how

Alumni Group
Course graduates are invited to attend a free monthly drop-in session at Stanford University for group discussions and updates on the latest compassion research. Sessions are led by certified CCT teachers and include guided meditations, group discussions, and updates on the latest in the science and practice of compassion.

Any other questions? Please read FAQ or contact us.

*Please note recordings and handouts from this class may not be reproduced, distributed, published, displayed, modified, or used to create derivative material. If you would like permission to use any of the material contained in the recordings or handouts you must contact Compassion Institute and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University.

© The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University 2008-2013, and Compassion Institute 2017. All rights reserved. All or portions of this course’s material include copyrighted materials belonging to Stanford University.”

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