Current Leaders

Prof.Paul Gilbert OBE Choden (Sean McGoven) Dr. Russell Kolts Maureen Cooper
Frits Koster Zoe Zalavary Erik van den Brink Dr Angela Kennedy Jacqui Dillon Dennis Tirch

Prof Paul Gilbert OBE is head of the Mental Health Research Unit, and Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby, where he developed Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). He has a BA in Economics (1973), a Diploma in Clinical Psychology (from the BPS), and an MA in Experimental Psychology (1975), and a PhD in Clinical Psychology (Edinburgh, 1980). He was made a fellow of the British Psychological Society for contributions to psychological knowledge in 1993, and was president of the British Association for Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapy in 2003. He served on the government depression NICE guideline committee. 

Prof Paul Gilbert has published and edited 21 books, including the best selling Overcoming Depression, and The Compassionate Mind. He is the series editor for the 'compassionate approaches to life difficulties' series, published by Constable Robinson. He was awarded an OBE in 2011 for his contributions to mental healthcare.

Choden (Sean McGovern) was born in South Africa and educated as a lawyer before practising as a Buddhist monk for 7 years, during which time he completed a traditional 3 year, 3 month retreat within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  For the last 5 years he has focused on secular mindfulness training and played a key role in setting up the first post graduate programme in the UK integrating mindfulness and compassion. This MSc programme is run through Aberdeen University and is now in its second year. He is also working with Prof Paul Gilbert in developing a training programme integrating mindfulness and elements of Mahayana Buddhist practice with Paul’s compassionate mind training programme that draws on evolutionary psychology and neuroscience. He recently co-authored Mindful Compassion with Paul Gilbert which is published by Constable Robinson.
Zoe Zalavary has been practising Buddhist meditation since 1997. In 2000 she moved into a residential Buddhist college in Yorkshire in order to train in Buddhist philosophy, psychology and meditation. She lived in this community for 10 years, where she became manager of the Centre and taught many meditation classes. In 2009, Zoe spent three years in a solitary meditation retreat in a remote forest in Scotland. After finishing her retreat she decided to move back to the city to bring her experience into a secular context in the heart of the community. Since then  Zoe has been developing her skills in Western psychology and training as a Person-Centred therapist, and is a member of the BACP. She has also trained with the Mindfulness Association, and with Drs Chris Germer and Kristin Neff on their Mindful Self Compassion core skills training. She is currently based at the Tom Allan Centre in Glasgow, and her client work includes working with long term Depression, Anxiety, Eating disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Addictions, Abuse and Attachment and Developmental Trauma. She also offers one to one Mindfulness counselling.

Dr Russell Kolts is a clinical psychologist and professor at Eastern Washington University near Spokane, WA, USA. He is the author ofThe Compassionate Mind Approach to Managing Your Anger, and the forthcoming Living with an Open Heart: Cultivating Compassion in Everyday Life (with Thubten Chodron). Dr. Kolts is the founder and director of the Inland Northwest Compassionate Mind Center, and developed the True Strength anger management group therapy program based on Compassion-Focused Therapy that is currently at use in a prison setting. He is proud to be a member of the international CFT community.
Maureen Cooper is the author of The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress, which was published by Constable Robinson and is part of the 'Compassionate Approaches to Life Difficulties' series edited by Prof Paul Gilbert. She combines more than thirty years of experience as a professional educator and senior manager in a non-profit organization with a hands-on education in Buddhism. In 2004 Maureen founded Awareness in Action, a consultancy dedicated to the secular application of mindfulness, meditation and compassion in the workplace.

Frits Koster is a vipassana meditation teacher and qualified mindfulness teacher. He has also trained and worked as a psychiatric nurse. He has taught mindfulness in mental health settings, including clinics and hospitals for many years. He has been practising vipassana meditation for 35 years and was a Buddhist monk for six years in the 1980s. He has been leading vipassana retreats and courses since then. While he was a monk he studied Buddhist psychology at various monasteries in Southeast Asia. He is a teacher and member of the faculty of the Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches (IMA), the Institute for Mindfulness (IvM) in the Netherlands as well as various training institutes across Europe. He is the author of several books, of which the following books have been translated and published (by Silkworm Books) into English:Liberating Insight (2004), Buddhist Meditation in Stress Management(2007) and The Web of Buddhist Wisdom (2014). For more information, please see his websites fritskoster.com orcompassionateliving.info.
Erik van den Brink is a psychiatrist/psychotherapist and qualified mindfulness teacher. He studied medicine in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and trained and worked in psychiatry in West Yorkshire districts in the UK. He has been practising meditation (vipassana and Zen) for over 20 years, and trained in MBSR, MBCT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy and Interpersonal Mindfulness with founding teachers from these areas. 


He works at the Center for Integrative Psychiatry, an innovative mental health clinic in the Dutch city of Groningen, where he is one of the co-founders and a member of the organizing committee of international scientific conferences. He has specialised in solution-focused, mindfulness-based and compassion-focused approaches in mental health care and is a frequently asked guest-teacher at training institutes in the Netherlands and across Europe. For more information, please see his website.
Dr Angela Kennedy has been a Psychologist in the NHS for 24 years and is a trauma therapist working in Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust. She is currently service lead for a specialist psychological therapies team working with people who experience enduring psychotic symptoms.  She is actively creating systems for services to be ‘Trauma-Informed’ and is Project Lead for Compassion focused management and culture in TEWV.   
Angela is on the board of the European Society for Trauma and Dissociation and is the psychological therapies lead for the North of England Clinical Network.
Jacqui Dillon is a respected speaker, writer and activist, and has lectured and published worldwide on trauma, psychosis, dissociation and recovery. Jacqui is the national Chair of the Hearing Voices Network in England, Honorary Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of East London, Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Medicine,  Pharmacy and Health, Durham University and Visiting Research Fellow at The Centre for Community Mental Health, Birmingham City University. 
Jacqui is the co-editor of Living with Voices, an anthology of 50 voice hearers stories of recovery, Demedicalising Misery: Psychiatry, Psychology and the Human Condition and the 2nd Edition of Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis. She has published numerous articles and papers, is on the editorial board of the journal Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches and is a foreign correspondent for Mad In America. Jacqui is also a voice hearer. For more information, please see her website.
Dr Dennis Tirch recieved his PhD from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and  is the Founder and Director of The Center for Mindfulness and Compassion Focused CBT in New York. He currently serves as an Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College.  His post-doctoral residency took place at the Veterans' Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, MA., where he served as the Assistant Director of the Bedford CBT Center and developed the “Continual Awareness” mindfulness-meditation based group therapy for trauma survivors. 

He is the author of The Compassionate Mind Guide To Overcoming Anxiety:  Using Compassion Focused Therapy to Overcome Worry, Panic and Fear and the co-author of Emotion Regulation: A Practitioner’s Guide (with Dr. Robert Leahy and Dr. Lisa Napolitano), and Mindfulness in Clinical Practice (with Dr. Richard Sears and Dr. Brian Denton). His next book (with Benjamin Shoendorff and Laura Silberstein) ACT Practitioner's Guide to the Science of Compassion: Tools for Fostering Psychological Flexibility, will be released in January 2015.