For mental health professionals:

Fierce Compassion Martial Arts and the ICCFT present

Embodied Compassion: Integrating CFT and Martial Arts to entrain therapist courage

12th and 13th May, Hilton Garden Inn, Dublin

Spaces in this workshop are limited. Book early to avoid disappointment! Contact for more information or to book your place.

Dr. Neil Clapton

Fierce Compassion Martial Arts

Dr. Syd Hiskey

Workshop Outline

Psychotherapeutic encounters inevitably entail moments and episodes of disaffiliation, ruptures and conflict. These events can pose significant challenges and threats to both client and therapist, that can undermine/derail the therapeutic alliance and subsequent compassionate growth. Resolving and repairing such ruptures requires therapists to tolerate not only their clients' but also their own distress, to better afford the courage and wisdom to respond compassionately.

This two-day experiential workshop will expose participants to martial arts-inspired CFT skills and practices to further help develop their distress tolerance and compassionate resilience, so as to stay fully present and emotionally available in difficult therapeutic encounters. Through a broad range of martial arts exercises, clinicians/practitioners shall experience and further develop their skills in the following:

  • Maintaining balance, stability, flexibility and compassionate responsiveness across emotional states;
  • Deep distress tolerance in being with strong (threat-based) emotions;
  • How to rapidly and fluidly switch between motivational systems to stay affiliatively engaged during moments of high emotional and relational threat;
  • Dynamically responding to fears, blocks and resistances to compassion by redirecting energy flow;
  • The courage to persist and take action in the face of challenges and threats.

This workshop does not require participants to have any previous experience or established practice in Martial Arts. Participants will need to have a basic understanding of the CFT model and therapy process(es), particularly the two psychologies of and the flow(s) of compassion.

 Learning objectives

  1. How Radically Embodied Compassion training can helpfully influence and shape CFT work via a process of somatic metamorphism;
  2. How to use embodied practices of martial arts as a form of Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) to stimulate the physiological processes associated with and underpinning compassionate motivation, and thus enhance competencies in compassionate engagement and action;
  3. How martial arts-informed Radically Embodied Compassion training can increase CFT practitioners’ motivational monitoring and switching abilities, particularly in difficult therapeutic encounters.

 Workshop Leaders

Dr Neil Clapton is a Clinical Psychologist working in the NHS within secondary adult mental health services in Swindon. His clinical work involves providing Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) to people experiencing complex trauma, personality and attachment difficulties. Neil spent much of his early-middle childhood and early adolescence practising the martial art of Taekwondo, culminating in him being awarded a 1st-degree Black Belt at the age of 13. He is the co-founder of Fierce Compassion Martial Arts (

Dr Syd Hiskey is a consultant clinical psychologist in full-time independent practice. He has practised a wide range of martial arts including Karate, Wing Chun Kung Fu and hybrid defence and more recently urban combatives. He is the co-founder of Fierce Compassion Martial Arts (

 Useful Reading

Clapton, N., & Hiskey, S. (2023). The Way is in Training: Martial Arts-informed Compassionate Mind Training to enhance CFT Therapists’ Compassionate Competencies. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine, 8(1), 1-17.

Clapton, N., & Hiskey, S. (2020). Radically embodied compassion: The potential role of traditional martial arts in compassion cultivation. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 555156.

Hiskey, S., & Clapton, N. (2019). The martial arts and embodied distress tolerance in psychological therapy. Int J Martial Arts, 5(4).

Foster, D. (2015). Fighters who don’t fight: The case of aikido and somatic metaphorphism. Qualitative Sociology, 38, 165-183.

Faggianelli, P., & Lukoff, D. (2006). Aikido and psychotherapy: A study of psychotherapists who are Aikido practitioners. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 38(2), 159.