Teaching Compassionate Mind Training to help midwives cope with traumatic clinical incidents

02 January 2021
19 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 1


Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) is taught to cultivate compassion and teach midwives how to care for themselves. The need to build midwives' resilience is recognised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), who advocate that mental health coping strategies be embedded into the midwifery curriculum. In this respect, CMT can be used as a resilience-building method to help midwives respond to self-criticism and threat-based emotions with compassion. The underpinnings of CMT involve understanding that people can develop cognitive biases or unhelpful thinking patterns, co-driven by an interplay between genetics and the environment. Within this paper, the underpinning theory of CMT and how it can be used to balance psychological threat, drive, and soothing systems are outlined. To contextualise the application to midwifery practice, a traumatic incident has been discussed. Teaching CMT has the potential to improve professional quality of life, and reduce midwife absence rates and potential attrition from the profession.

Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) and Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) aim to help people cultivate compassion for self and others. CFT was created to help people respond to self-criticism and shame with compassion and self-supportive inner voices (Gilbert, 2005; 2009; 2010; 2014). CFT is a psychotherapy used in therapeutic settings (Kirby, 2016), and CMT is a programme of contemplative and body-based practices that can be used in non-clinical populations to help people cultivate compassion (Gilbert, 2005; 2009; 2014).

Over the past 10 years, there has been an expanding body of evidence to support the use of CMT to alleviate mental health difficulties and promote wellbeing (Beaumont and Hollins Martin, 2015; Leaviss and Uttley, 2015; Karatzias et al, 2019). In response, CMT is now being implemented in hospitals, prisons, schools, universities and businesses, which makes it appropriate for midwives to now consider its use.

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