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The Power of Mindfulness…and Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness therapy is a meditation-based treatment with foundations in Buddhism; it has become popular in many private practice and mental health settings around the world. It’s something that I infuse into almost all of my work with clients. It’s something that I believe in and practice in my own life.

Mindfulness encourages individuals to focus on breathing and their body…to notice but NOT judge their thoughts and to live in the present moment. It’s all about focusing on the here and now, not getting stuck in the past of worrying about what lies ahead in the future.

Stefan Hofmann, a professor of psychology at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders underscored the scientific credentials of mindfulness therapy with a review article in the April issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. After combining results of 39 previous studies involving 1,140 patients, the researchers concluded that mindfulness therapy was indeed effective for relieving anxiety and improving mood.

In addition, mindfulness when combined with cognitive therapy, has shown promise in individuals who have had multiple episodes of depression. This approach is known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or “MBCT”. This type of therapy helps clients address unwanted beliefs, feelings and body sensations. In addition, clients are then instructed on how to change the way their mind would ordinarily respond to negative events or thoughts. When put together, this can really help clients create a more positive and healthy outlook.

MBCT addresses unwanted beliefs, feelings and body sensations. People are then taught to change the way their mind normally responds to negative events and thoughts. This helps to create a more positive outlook. The goal is to provide skills for life to help prevent chronic depression. MBCT has been shown to reduced relapse rates by 50% among people who had suffered from three or more depressive episodes in two studies.

MBCT works by keeping the mind from being caught up in negative old habits that can create a downward spiral of automatic thinking. This type of therapy is based on concepts that teach clients to do the following:

  • Get to know the inner workings of your mind
  • Notice the beautiful and special “small stuff” around you instead of living in your head
  • Accept yourself as you are, without harsh judgment
  • Recognize unhelpful thoughts (often called “negative automatic thoughts”) and how they affect your mood
  • Break the link between negative mood and the negative thinking that could lead to a relapse
  • Learn to stay in touch with the present moment, and not obsess about the past or future. Live in the “here and now”

MBCT can be used on its own and may also be combined with antidepressants or other types of therapy. At the present time, some important studies are looking into whether MBCT can reduce or eliminate the need for antidepressant medication in some people.

When working with clients, I try to remind them that they are in control of their negative thoughts. It’s important to remember that when a negative thought enters your mind, you can decide whether or not to honor it. Just because you think something, does not make it a fact or necessarily true! To learn more about mindfulness, you can visit http://www.mbct.com/



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