Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, what is it?
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
The two main approaches to the use of mindfulness are Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive therapy (MBCT), both of which can be learnt via courses and are completely secular in dynamics.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was designed specifically to help individuals who are prone to repeating depression. It combines mindfulness techniques like meditation, stretching exercises and breathing, with elements from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help break the negative thought patterns that are characteristic of recurrent depression.
MBCT is preferred by the National Institute for Health Insurance and Care Excellence (NICE) as an efficient treatment for people who have problems with recurrent episodes of depression. Evidence shows that MBCT can reduce the threat of relapse of recurrent depression (Mark et al, 2014). Research also shows that it is especially effective to help people who have a tendency to relapse (Teasdale et al, 2000), that it is a cost-effective and accessible treatment for people and providers, and that it supports mental health because of the psychosocial methods used to promote staying well (Williams & Kuyken, 2012).
MBCT teaches people to focus on the present rather than fretting about days gone by or the near future. In addition, it offers people a better understanding of their own body, helping them to recognise the indicators of oncoming depression and how to manage them. In the UK, almost three-quarters of GP surgeries think mindfulness meditation would be helpful for people with mental health issues. Back in 2010 an NHS study found that only 69% of GP surgeries said they hardly ever or never sent their patients with recurrent depression for MBCT. In 2013 a study by the Mental Health Foundation stated that 30% of GPs referred patients to mindfulness training. Although the numbers seemed to indicate that a long-term course of anti-depressants was the treatment of choice, it should be noted that mindfulness or CBT were additional resources available to patients with or without referrals.
In 2016 the Oxford Mindful Centre looked at the largest meta-analysis of 9 randomised trials of MBCT for recurrent depression and found that MCBT was a reliable and effective treatment option. The analysis acknowledged that people who received MBCT were 31% less likely to relapse during the 60-week follow-up compared with those who did not receive MBCT. Willem Kuyken, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre said: 'While MBCT is not a panacea, it does clearly offer those with a substantial history of depression a new approach to learning skills to stay well in the long-term. It offers people a safe and empowering treatment choice alongside other mainstay approaches.'
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction are practices that attempt to achieve specific health goals using different methods. Originally, MBSR was designed to help with managing stress and MBCT to help people avoid relapse into depression. Both practices of mindfulness have achieved their purpose to a certain extent and are truly complimentary to any medicated treatments.
This is a straightforward exercise, needing only a windowpane with a view. It will help you for a few moments to notice things whilst suspending judgment, assumptions or opinions.
Step 1: Find an area at a window where there are places to be observed outside.
Step 2: Look at everything that is possible to see. Avoid labelling, and categorising what you see outside through the window; rather than considering "bird" or "stop sign", make an effort to spot the colours, the patterns, or the textures.
Step 3: Focus on the movements of the turf or leaves in the air flow, notice the numerous figures within this small portion of the world you can view. Try to start to see the world beyond your windows from the point of view of someone not really acquainted with these places.
Step 4: Be observant, however, not critical, not fixated.
Step 5: If you feel distracted, gently draw your mind from those thoughts and notice a colour or condition again to place you back in the right mindset.
If you want to find out more about MBSR please refer to my previous article on the topic.
Marie claude Bouchet
Mental well-being, stress management, resilience etc.