Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a cognitive behavioural approach that integrates the practice of mindfulness meditation with the more traditional techniques used in cognitive therapy.
What is MBCT?
The word mindfulness can be defined as ‘being in the present moment with intention’ or ‘the state of being conscious or aware of something’.
Mindfulness has become increasingly part of western therapies as a desirable skill to cultivate in order to facilitate mental wellbeing. As a therapeutic technique, mindfulness attempts to bring about a mental state that is achieved by focusing one’s awareness in the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
As a therapeutic approach, MBCT is designed to help people who suffer from repeated bouts of depression and chronic unhappiness. The focus of this therapy is to help the client understand the modes of the mind that often underpin mood disorders and develop a new relationship to them.
What can I expect in MBCT?
- MBCT will help you understand what depression is
- It will help you understand what makes you vulnerable to negative mood spirals
- It will help you make sense of the connection between negative spirals and the ways we might put ourselves under pressure, lose touch with what is meaningful in our lives or become dominated by high standards and are left feeling as though we are ‘not good enough’
- Mindfulness will help you see these patterns in the mind more clearly and learn how to spot your mood changing so that you ‘nip them in the bud’ at a much earlier stage
- Mindfulness will teach you how to refocus your mind on being in the present moment rather than become overly focused on either regrets of the past or worries about the future
- Mindfulness will help you cultivate a non-judgemental approach to your life and greater self-compassion
Mindfulness can be an incredibly valuable skill to cultivate even for individuals who might not be suffering from depression but might wish to increase their psychological resilience and lead a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
Frequently asked questions
In CBT, the focus is on helping you challenge and change negative thoughts. There is an assumption that through changing your thoughts patterns, your emotions and symptoms will also be alleviated. We would generally offer you MBCT when CBT hasn’t been effective and if you already rationally understand that your thoughts don’t have validity but you’re still having difficulties letting go of them. In these cases, mindfulness can help you develop a different relationship to your thoughts.