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True Strength: Working with Challenging Emotions and Self-Criticism using Compassion, Mindfulness, and Creativity

Next Taking Place: True Strength: Working with Challenging Emotions and Self-Criticism using Compassion, Mindfulness, and Creativity

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True Strength is a 12-week compassion-focused group therapy program for individuals (adults).


As we go through our days, things can be going smoothly or it can be rough. Emotions can feel positive or they can feel challenging. The inner dialogue we have with ourselves can be encouraging or discouraging, welcoming or chastising and shaming. Sometimes, we may long to feel greater confidence or ease.

In this 12-week group therapy program, you will learn strategies to work in skillful ways with the self-criticism and challenging emotions (such as anxiety) that you experience—learning to approach and navigate these experiences with compassion, wisdom and courage.

In addition to committing to participate in-class, you agree to practice the exercises you are learning for 5 to 20 minutes outside of class a minimum of five times per week. The more time you are able to commit to practicing, the more benefits you are likely to derive.

The program includes educational information, guided meditations, imagery and writing exercises, collage, and group discussion. Many of the activities are drawn from compassion-focused therapy (especially from the True Strength group therapy program developed by Russell Kolts, clinical psychologist).

This is a closed group with a small and limited number of participants.

The group program is best suited to individuals who are aware they experience fairly significant self-criticism and/or self-attack and would like to work on ways to lessen its negative impact in their lives, including to work on building greater self-encouragement, kindness, and support within and toward themselves. As part of this process, certain mindfulness skills are taught and practiced (though they are not the sole focus of the program).

Participants need to have at least a moderate ability to safely tolerate challenging emotions and/or life experiences that may arise. It is also preferable that individuals also have in place support for themselves outside of the group, such as an individual therapist they may talk to to process more extensively any reflections that come up.


Instructor: Tracy Riley, M.A., C.Psych.Assoc.

Location: Kingston, ON

Dates for the next program being offered: Thursdays; February 27th to May 15, 2014; 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Program Fee*: $85 per 2-hour session for 12 sessions


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