Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) aims to support and help folks that are struggling with depression and feelings of chronic unhappiness and low mood. The treatment uses the practices of cognitive-behavioral therapy combined with mindfulness-based practices such as meditation to best support the individual. Research supports that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can also support folks as a relapse prevention tool as they move through their mental health journey with depression or depressive symptoms (MacKenzie & Kocovski, 2015).
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Studies on the efficacy Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy show that it can have positive effects on a person’s ability to practice mindfulness through a cognitive therapy approach. This approach allows the individual able to have more self-compassion and have less rumination and worry about their thoughts and feelings. This decrease in rumination and worry allows the person to have a decentering approach to understanding themselves. Through the process of decentering the person has the tools to be able to look outside of their own mental processes and step outside of their own thoughts and feelings and take a more non-judgmental view towards themselves.
HIGHLIGHTS OF MINDFULNESS-BASED COGNITIVE THERAPY
Studies show that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can be an efficient and effective intervention method for the prevention of depression relapse. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has been also shown to be a beneficial treatment for active depression. This treatment method is characterized by its promotion of enhancing a person’s awareness and relationship to their thoughts and feelings but does not focus on changing the thought content.
For folks working through their experiences of depression and anxiety, it can be difficult and overwhelming to sit with thoughts and feelings that compound the experiences of depression and or anxiety. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy aims to support folks with these experiences by offering the tools to be able to have present moment awareness whilst enhancing self-compassion and acceptance.
MINDFULNESS AS A PRACTICE OF SELF-CARE AND MENTAL WELLNESS FOR CLIENTS AND COUNSELLORS
Within the practice of self-care and mental wellness, there are many ways an individual can support themselves. One of the ways that individuals can practice self-care and healing is through activities aimed at mindfulness meditation. Research has shown the benefits of mindfulness-based practices as a tool to increase a person’s level of well-being and reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Mindfulness meditation is described as a method to recognize ‘the busy mind’ and offers a sense of choice by improving internalized control. Mindfulness-based practices have been shown to support individuals from different communities, workplaces, and life experiences.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
Mindfulness meditation is considered a mental training practice that encourages the individual to slow down racing thoughts and helps to let go of negativity. This can enable both the mind and body to calm down. Mindfulness meditation focuses on the ‘now’ and helps the individual feel that they can accept and acknowledge their feelings, thoughts, and sensations without any judgment. Mindfulness as self-care has also shown promising results in increasing compassion towards self and others and tolerance for emotional distress. Folks that use mindfulness-based interventions in their personal and professional spaces have reported increased acceptance, awareness, and compassion towards themselves and others. Mindfulness-based practices can come in all different mediums including practicing using mindful seeing, mindful eating, mindful listening, mindful breathing as well as practicing body scans and breathing exercises.
WHEN CAN WE USE MINDFULNESS PRACTICES?
If you are new to mindfulness-based practices or if you have been practicing for many years, there are always different ways that you can practice and continue to strengthen your skills. Mindfulness exercises take time and is seen as a journey not a destination. As we transition through different phases of our lives and our circumstances change, so can the ways that we use mindfulness-based practices to best support ourselves.
The authors of the popular book Sitting Together: Essential Skills for Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy, Pollak, Pedulla, & Siegel, provide information on the importance of incorporating mindfulness into daily practices for counsellors. By using these scientifically researched techniques in therapy the counsellors are better able to present these techniques to their clients and reap the benefits in their practice. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to deepen the therapeutic relationship and provide emotional support tools for counsellors to deal with the difficult emotions inherent in some clients’ stories. The authors share how counsellors can use mindfulness-based practices to anchor themselves in sessions to best support their clients. Finding out what works best for the counsellor in and out of sessions with clients is an ongoing practice and continues the journey of self-awareness and reflection.
Positive Psychology:22 Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques & Activities for Adults. https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-exercises-techniques-activities/
This website provides a variety of exercises, activities, and techniques that focus on mindfulness through different mediums and methods. Information regarding the benefits and use of mindfulness meditation is included as some helpful references for further exploration.
MacKenzie, M. Kocovski, N. (2015). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: Trends and developments. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 9, 125- 132. https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S63949
Pollak, S.M., Pedulla, T. & Siegel, R.D. (2014). Three ways to bring mindfulness into therapy. Mind and Body. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_ways_bring_mindfulness_therapy
Sipe, W. E. B., & Eisendrath, S. J. (2012). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: Theory and Practice. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 57(2), 63– 69. https://doi.org/10.1177/070674371205700202Your Guide to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. MBCT.com. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.mbct.com/
Written by Aimee Siviter for Crossroads Collective