The Australian Women's Weekly

The compassion cure

Joanne Corrigan smiles with her eyes, offers affection with gusto and when she’s worried about a friend, is quick to step in with a walk in the park, a pot of tea, an invitation to dinner, a shoulder to cry on. She’s a loyal friend, the magnificently encouraging mother of two bright-spark university students and a clinical psychologist with a Master’s degree and 20 years of successful practice under her belt. Yet until not long ago, Joanne thought she was “a bit of a loser”.

“My constant companion,” she explains, “was a part of me that said, ‘You’re not good enough. Other people do it better. What do you know? Who do you think you are?’”

That voice was so insistent, vicious and so convincing, it defeated every attempt to battle it with reason, and dragged her into dark spaces of depression, anxiety and despair.

Joanne wasn’t alone. The World Health Organisation has estimated anxiety and depression will be the number one health concern globally within a decade. They’re debilitating conditions that suck the joy from life, and kill. But there’s a new movement in psychotherapy that believes the key to defeating them might lie in a motivating force that exists alongside them in the human brain.

Professor Paul Gilbert OBE, the instigator of compassion-focused therapy, champions the power of kindness. It’s not a panacea, he admits, but it’s one of

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