Mindfulness-based Approach to Therapy
The Mindfulness-based approach: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) have been especially designed to target Stress and Relapse prevention for Depression.
However, there is a growing research showing that these approaches can be beneficial for many types of mental health problems and emotional, physical and behavioural problems. These approaches are very similar at their core and only differ slightly in content. Both approaches can be adapted to specific problems and tailored to each individual.
MBSR is originally designed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, to help people cope better with physical illness, chronic pain and stress. While Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist teachings, the program itself is not spiritually based.
MBCT has been recommended as a treatment for depression in the NICE guidelines (UK Institute of Clinical Excellence). It is a powerful way of decreasing the high risk of relapse which has been observed with Depression. Newly published research now also demonstrates that MBCT is effective in the treatment of Anxiety Disorders.
Mindfulness-Based Approach combines a form of eastern meditation with elements of Cognitive Therapy in the case of MBCT. Mindfulness means paying attention to our experiences moment to moment, without judgement. Being fully aware of what is happening, regarding bodily sensations, emotions, impulses, thoughts and mental images and developing an accepting attitude towards “what is” because it simply “is” without the interference of the mind’s effort to explain, label and rationalise things.
This process gives us opportunities and greater freedom to choose and respond as opposed to reacting automatically and going down the same old mental ruts.
“Slowing down” or “Being rather than doing”, reduces heart rate and increases brain activity. Paying attention moment to moment to whatever arises without judgements:
- Increases self-awareness, self-trust and self-acceptance as well as empathy for self and others
- Improves concentration and creativity
- Fosters serenity in the face of adversities
- Develops a more accepting attitude towards life and its challenges. Helps in adapting quickly to changes and life transitions
- Reduces stress and stress-related physical symptoms including chronic pain
- Decreases anxiety and depression
- Improves immune system functioning
- Reduces symptoms secondary to chronic illness and life-threatening illness
- Enhance overall appreciation of life
Mindfulness Based Approaches teach people how to recognise the warning signs of depression, anxiety, stress or any negative brain patterns before it occurs in order to stop it at the root.
People learn to identify, accept and not respond to their negative automatic thoughts, emotions and automatic reactions and instead, are able to choose how to respond to difficulties in a healthy way.
In a nutshell, Mindfulness is “Do less, be, feel happier and achieve more”.
If you are new to this approach, I would strongly recommend attending an MBSR or an MBCT 8 week course in a group, to gain a good knowledge and practice with the support of a group. In my experience, participants learn as much from their experience as they do from other group member's experience.
Once, you have attended a 8-week MBCT or MBSR group, you may wish to explore some specific difficulties, using the same approach, on an individual basis. These individual sessions can then be tailored to your needs and support your Mindfulness practice.
I offer individual Mindfulness Sessions at my private practice in Central London and on the telephone and Skype.