Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a relative new comer to the psychotherapy scene and incorporates elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness based stress reduction into eight session group program. Psychiatrists Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and Jon Kabat Zinn combined the idea of accepting and allowing the negative thoughts in one,s life as it is, with Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness based Stress Reduction program. Hence MBCT was born.
What to expect?
Over the last twenty years, the “third wave” of behavior therapy has evolved, which has resulted in an expansion of the traditional behavioral therapy. Newer facets of cognitive behavior therapy have emerged that includes certain considerations that were considered off limits for behavior therapists until recently, these includes mindfulness, the therapeutic relationship, acceptance, meditation, spirituality, values, being in the present moment, and emotional expression. Mindfulness is a process that involves becoming efficiently observant and aware of external and internal stimuli in the present moment and indulging an open attitude toward accepting what is rather than judging and the current situation (Kabat-Zinn, 1994; Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002). The essence of mindfulness is becoming aware of one’s mind from one moment to the next, with gentle acceptance. In mindfulness practice, the clients are helped to train themselves to focus on their present experience. Unlike CBT, MBCT does not focus upon re-framing the negative thoughts. Rather Mindfulness is thinking about thoughts, thus experiencing it.
How does it work?
Like CBT, the goal is to develop consistent awareness about one’s thoughts and reactions so one notices when one gets triggered and involved into negative thoughts and not to develop a new way to look at a stressful situation. MBCT preaches that the best way to notice what triggers negativity is to develop ongoing awareness and acceptance of the present moment. This will also help in managing stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms. Instead of investing effort to understand the thought, MBCT would promote accepting the thought that generates disturbances in the mental state without judgement and letting it drift from one’s mind without attempting to attach much meaning to the thought. The greater and more consistent one’s awareness of present moment is, the more likely it is for the person to absorb into the negative feelings of the moment or the negative thought spirals and choose to disengage from distressing mood and worries.
MBCT primarily focuses on new way of dealing with stressful situations, In MBCT, a person recognizes negative thought but focus is on paying attention to the present, accepting the thoughts and letting the negative part of it to drift away from the mind without attachment of judgement or meaning to it. The client is instructed to ‘breathe through’ the reactions, experience the thought and to be with the thought, in the process the client is kept rooted to the present
When is it used?
MBCT is most useful for relapse prevention in patients of recurrent depression with efficacy quite similar to maintenance of anti-depressants. Other than depression, clients suffering from chronic stress related disorders, anxiety and related disorders are also sometimes subjected to Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy.
Role of therapist:
The therapeutic stance of MBCT focuses on encouraging the clients to adopt to a new way of being and relating to their thoughts and feelings, putting little emphasis on altering and challenging specific opinion. In MBCT the therapist does not try to fix the aroused negative feelings or thoughts but tries to develop a better understanding and acceptance of the thought.