Christine Brähler AWP Psychotherapietage 2019

ABOUT

Bio

Dr. Christine Brähler is a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, supervisor and lecturer. As a Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Teacher Trainer, she leads MSC intensives, MSC teacher trainings and supervision around the world in several languages. She offers innovative workshops on MSC Advanced Teaching Skills, Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy and Fierce Self-Compassion. Her academic and popular publications include the first clinical trial of Compassion Focused Therapy. www.christinebraehler.com

Dr. Christine Brähler

 Degrees:

  • Doctor by Research (PhD)
  • Doctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
  • Masters Psychology (Hons)

Licenses:

  • Clinical Psychologist, GB
  • Psychologischer Psychotherapeut, DE
  • Dozent, Supervisor,
    Selbsterfahrungsleiter, DE

Other posts & qualifications:

  • MSC Teacher Trainer
  • Honorary Lecturer, University of Glasgow

THE “WHAT, WHY AND HOW” OF MY PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

Psychotherapy

I am clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. I gained my undergraduate, clinical and research doctorates from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, UK.

During my clinical training in Canada and in Scotland and in my first post in the National Health Service in Scotland I worked mostly with people affected by complex mental health problems such as eating disorders, chronic depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, psychosis or personality issues. I enjoyed working within interdisciplinary teams to try to support the people – often young adults – and their families using individual, group and family therapy. When I moved to Germany I worked as a psychotherapist at a psychosomatic hospital. I provided individual and group psychotherapy to people who struggled with a variety of mental health problems and who often found themselves in an existential crisis. Most of my clients were helping professionals like myself. I then started providing outpatient psychotherapy in Munich in a shared office with colleagues.

Over the years, I have come to integrate everything I have learnt and am still learning in how I approach life and psychotherapy. My sources are trainings, research findings, books, supervisors, colleagues, spiritual teachers and most importantly the lessons that life has taught me and the wisdom and courage of the people I have had the privilege to support.

Psychotherapy can often seem a little mysterious. I am trained in a variety of evidence-based methods that I tailor to the person’s resources and problems. My intentions are that I meet the person where they are at, as a transparent and real fellow human being. By attuning to myself, I try to attune to the person in front of me, and I try again, when I fail. By connecting with my own body and emotions, I invite the person to gradually connect with their sensations, emotions and thoughts with increasing courage, compassion and clarity. By trusting that we all have wise minds, I invite the person to find access to their inner wisdom and compassion. With good will and patience, I hold the space within which the person can explore their inner world of protective and vulnerable parts from their wise and compassionate self. With confidence, I encourage and coach the person to make the changes they want to make. On every step of the therapeutic journey, I rely on compassion towards everything that shows up, within me, within the person I support, within the relationship. Wise compassion acts like a medicine that over time has the potential to heal hurts, to make the unbearable more bearable and to provide insights. By integrating and embracing what was exiled, wise compassion can bring us more peace and strength.

Internal Family Systems Therapy best summarizes my current way of doing psychotherapy. I am currently not offering psychotherapy until further notice.

In my workshops for clinicians I teach how to deal with challenging moments of shame, exhaustion, irritation and powerlessness in therapy and how to find safe access to compassion by navigating the obstacles within an injured or traumatized attachment system, such as in Borderline Personality Disorder.

Mindfulness & Compassion Teaching & Teacher Development

During my clinical training I experienced a period of feeling overwhelmed and powerless when faced with the suffering of people with terminal illnesses. My skills to fix had ceased to work when faced with the unfixable suffering of sickness and death. I realized that I urgently needed to learn a new way of being with inevitable suffering. When I read that courage and compassion could help us to face and transform suffering, I was intrigued. I started practicing Buddhist meditation and entered a two-year long training in secular mindfulness, compassion, joy, equanimity and wisdom in this community in Scotland. Through daily practice I began to inhabit my body more, which gave me increasing calm and ease.

Along this path, I encountered powerful imagery practices, which helped me to access a wise and compassionate part of me. My enthusiasm led me to get creative in adapting these practices for people with psychosis in the context of a trial a Compassion Focused Group Therapy. What became apparent amongst us colleagues leading these therapy groups was that we needed more personal practice in mindfulness and self-compassion before we could guide others. During piloting such a training in 2010, I learned about a new American Program called Mindful Self-Compassion Program, which was aimed at the general public and thus ideally suited for health professionals. My first encounter with MSC practices stirred a gentle opening of the heart towards myself as well as some “allergic reaction” to the “sweetness” of it all. Nevertheless, I was intrigued enough to continue to practice sending compassion to myself when I needed it the most yet wanted it the least. Looking back, self-compassion has become a life-saving resource. I aspire to be a “compassionate mess” as one of my meditation teachers put it. That means to hold my fully human experience with great compassion. I feel that being able to attend to myself has increased my bandwidth for holding pain in others without trying to fix it and yet to be even more persistent in encouraging others change what can be changed.

Early on in my own personal practice, I was invited to teach and train to teach others in compassion practices including in Compassion Focused Therapy and shortly afterwards in Mindful Self-Compassion.  I became one of the first Mindful Self-Compassion teachers in 2012 and MSC teacher trainers when the pathway was launched in 2014 and I have been training and supervising new MSC teachers all around the globe and continue to do so in many languages. I enjoy coaching MSC teachers to deepen their inquiry skills during workshops. During my time on the Board of the Center for MSC I organised the first international MSC teacher festival in 2018 to begin to celebrate this fast-growing global community of which I feel blessed to be a part of.

I deeply care about taking care of the caregivers. Through self-compassion practice we can learn to unconditionally love and support the person closest to us- ourselves. Only when our cup is full, can we overflow with compassion for others and be sure to never run dry.

Research

I have been involved in research on trauma, emotion regulation and recovery in people affected by distressing psychosis.

After my undergraduate I worked as a research coordinator for psychosis projects at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montréal, Canada, for two years. Back in Scotland I completed my clinical training and doctorates in clinical psychology at the University of Edinburgh. During my first post in the National Health Service, I conducted the first randomised controlled trial of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), for which I translated the principles and practices of CFT into an interpersonal group therapy for people recovering from psychosis. We found that inviting a caring and wise mentality within and among group participants helped them to feel more connected, less marginalized and less ashamed and less depressed. Portuguese colleagues recently successfully revised the protocol.

It seems that inviting people affected by psychosis to develop compassion for their own struggles and for their peers in a group therapy setting can contribute to emotional recovery.

I have been affiliated with the University of Glasgow, UK, as an honorary lecturer since 2010. I currently have limited availability for providing paid consultation or supervision to projects trialling MSC (in line with the research guidelines provided by Center for MSC) or compassion-focused interventions.