CAMFT - The Essence of Compassion

tooker ss slide LU77 jumbo

Picture by George Tooker

This course is available on-demand. On-demand courses, by design, are self-paced, can be taken anytime and do not include interactions with an instructor. 

Members of CAMFT are able to receive CEU's in support of their membership. These are only available when the course and a quiz based on course material, are completed. Requirements for the quiz are available when the student links to the quiz at the end of the course.

Small registration button 1Cost: $65
CEU credits: 10
Registration: Open

Course Goal

Participants will discover the value of integrating compassion into their therapy practice with clients. Compassion enhances the relationship between therapist and their clients, fostering a safe space between them that facilitates dialog, active listening and healing.

Participants will learn by journaling, reading, watching videos, listening to poetry and music and observing art that reflect views of compassion.

Learning Objectives

  • The participant will gain an appreciation for what does and what does not comprise compassion, developing their own definition of compassion by determining what it is and isn’t.
  • The participant will be able to distinguish between pity and compassion and will be able to identify in what ways pity will actually impede their clients’ therapy.
  • The participant will discover and reflect on culturally-learned inhibitions, myths and misconceptions to practicing compassion.
  • Participants will come to understand that therapy practiced with compassion will stay more centered, trusting, open and effective in dialog and conflicts.
  • Participants will analyze how compassion is a structural base for a sustainable and effective therapeutic practice.
Course Outline

Lesson One: Exploring the Meaning of Compassion

Let’s start our journey of understanding compassion--weighing your own thoughts about the meaning of the word. The first activity is to begin listening and recording what you hear about compassion and within what context. This is followed by prompting your thinking about compassion by reflecting on three introductory statements made by the Dalai Lama, Karen Armstrong and Charles Darwin related to compassion. There is a more in-depth article on Darwin and what we have come to accept as a myth about what he truly meant by his often misquoted: "survival of the fittest." Finally, there is an article on seeing with the eyes of compassion--what we see and feel can sometimes become confusing. Throughout all of these activities you will be asked to write your own definition of compassion in your journal. Consider compassion: “what it is" and “what it isn’t.”

Lesson Two: Delving Deeper into Compassion

There is an academic adage implying that it is impossible to say everything that can be said about a topic. This is very true of "compassion." In this lesson we are going to consider how all living things are a part of one's personal circle of compassion, and then come face to face with what it means to work for a more compassionate and ethical world. This lesson will conclude with reflecting on how deep feelings of empathy can lead to caring and compassionate action.

Lesson Three: Notables Speak on Compassion

If you go to Goodreads (resources provided) you'll find that there are over 2500 quotes on compassion from writers, philosophers and historical figures. Challenging and insightful comments have been made by these figures - from Arthur Schopenhauer to Anne Frank. In this lesson you will experience a variety of statements that add to, or challenge, your personal definition of compassion. Undoubtedly, you will find several concepts to expand your thinking on compassion.

Lesson Four: Stories, Songs and Art Depicting Compassion Themes

Reading stories, listening to songs, and viewing art that addresses various themes of compassion, can directly (or indirectly) bring us closer to the true meaning of compassion. Throughout this lesson you will be working with material that originates from a variety of international sources, including historical and contemporary writers, artists and activists. Pay special attention to the "Resources" section to learn more about each of the people introduced through the activity.

Lesson Five: Essays on Compassion

The scope of the essays in this lesson are intentionally broad.  Each is important in its own right. Karen Armstrong instructs us on the compassionate and peaceful nature of Islam by quoting from the Koran. Paul Gilbert helps us understand why compassion isn’t easy, but necessary, and attainable. The renowned theorist of non-violent communication, Marshall B. Rosenberg, introduces us to the language of compassion, and hereditary Chief Phil Lane, Jr. of the Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations, shares his guiding principles for building a sustainable and harmonious world.

We end this lesson with an essay by Maria Popova on Compassion and The Golden Rule, led off by Karen Armstrong’s award-winning TEDX talk, introducing her wish for a Charter for Compassion.

Lesson Six: Turning to Action

You will be asked to consider what your next steps will be after taking the course. There is a possibility of contributing to a growing list of videos that relate your stories of your compassion journey--solidifying what you have learned about compassion and the ways in which it is realized in our everyday lives.


Course Developer: 

marilynturkovichMarilyn Turkovich started with the Charter for Compassion (CFC) in 2013 as the education director and since that time has moved into a number of different roles with CFC, and is now the Executive Director. Marilyn's background has been primarily in higher education and most specifically in directing teacher training programs for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, and chairing Columbia College-Chicago's master's program in multicultural and global education. She has done a considerable amount of curriculum writing through the years, much of it related to international and cultural topics. She worked with Independent Broadcasting Associates on a series for airing on National Public Radio, BBC and the Australian Broadcasting companies. There was a period of time in the 1990s when she worked in organizational development and specialized in instructional design work, strategic planning and leadership development. She also wrote and developed training on race and social justice initiatives.

© 2022 Charter for Compassion. All rights reserved.