COMPASSION CULTIVATION TRAINING – CCT© is an eight-week course developed in the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine.

The program is designed to develop the qualities of compassion, empathy, and kindness for oneself and for others. CCT integrates traditional contemplative practices with contemporary psychology and scientific research on compassion. The CCT protocol was developed at Stanford University by a team of contemplative scholars, clinical psychologists, and researchers.

Compassion is a process that unfolds in response to suffering. It begins with the recognition of suffering, which gives rise to thoughts and feelings of empathy and concern. This, in turn, motivates action to relieve that suffering.

Humans have a natural capacity for compassion. However, everyday stress, social pressures and life experiences can make it difficult to fully express this capacity. Each of us can choose to nurture and grow the compassionate instinct, like a plant that is carefully cultivated from a seed. This process requires patience, steady care, proper tools, and a supportive environment.

The process of cultivating compassion involves training our own minds, developing specific skills in how we relate to others, and ourselves and intentionally choosing compassionate thoughts and actions.

Why Cultivate Compassion?

Compassion training extends beyond helping one feel more empathy and concern for others, including the development of:

  • The strength to be with suffering
  • The courage to take compassionate action
  • The resilience to prevent compassion fatigue

These qualities support a wide range of goals, from improving personal relationships to making a positive difference in the world.

Compassion cultivation can also support one’s own health, happiness, and well being. Preliminary research suggests that CCT and similar programs can increase self-compassion and self-care, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and enhance connection with others.

CCT can improve compassion for oneself, for others, and being the recipient of compassion (Jazaieri et al., 2013). Furthermore, CCT has been shown to improve affect, emotion regulation, and mindfulness (Jazaieri et al., 2014), and reduce some forms of mind wandering while increasing caring behaviors for oneself and others (Jazaieri et al., 2016).


The genuine wish for ourselves and others to be relieved from suffering. Compassion is a multidimensional process. Stages of compassion involve these key components that ultimately give rise to cooperative and altruistic behavior.

  • an awareness of suffering (cognitive/empathetic)
  • sympathetic caring concern;being emotionally moved in response to suffering (affective)
  • a genuine wish to alleviate suffering and reduce the causes and conditions of suffering (intentional)
  • a responsiveness or readiness to take action to relieve suffering (motivational)

Mind & Life Podcast interview with Thupten Jinpa, lead author of CCT and primary English translator for the Dalai Lama.

A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives, Thupten Jinpa, Lead Author, Compassion Cultivation Training©

Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE)