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What is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy MBCT?
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) brings together time-tested ancient wisdom in the form of mindfulness practices and combines that with scientifically-based cognitve therapy. It was the result of research by Zindel Segal (University of Toronto), Mark Williams (University of Oxford) and John Teasdale (University of Cambridge). The core mindfulness practices in MBCT are based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme. It was originally developed to help those who suffer repeated episodes of depression and chronic unhappiness with the aim of reducing relapse and recurrence.

The risk of relapse and recurrence in those who have been depressed is very high, and the amount of triggering required for each subsequent episode becomes lower each time depression recurs. Studies of Major Depressive Disorder reported a recurrence rate of 40 percent within a year.

Randomized controlled clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of MBCT in reducing the likelihood of relapse by about 40-50% in people who have suffered 3 or more pervious episodes of depression. In the UK, the government’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has now recommended MBCT for those with 3 or more episodes of depression.

Unlike typical cognitive therapy, where thoughts are challenged, the approach makes no initial attempt to challenge the content of negative thinking. Rather it develops participants’ ability to change their relationship to their own thoughts, feelings and body sensations; such that this allows for an opportunity to discover the choice of whether to engage or not with these experiences that are transient.

A huge body of scientific research has demonstrated the positive effects of mindfulness on individuals’ physical and mental health, as well as emotional, social and intellectual skills. In terms of physical health, mindfulness is effective in reducing pain and high blood pressure. It improves mental health by effectively addressing problems like substance abuse, stress, anxiety, recurrent depression and improving sleep. It has also been shown to be capable of having effects on useful emotional and social skills, such as managing difficult feelings and being calm, resilient, compassionate and empathic, as well as intellectual skills, by improving sustained attention, working memory and concentration.
What if I do not suffer from depression, would it still be useful?

It is important to collect relevant information about participants to determine suitability as MBCT is conducted in a group format and over 8 weeks. This requires some level of commitment from participants and also absence of an ongoing or recent crisis which would render individual sessions possibly more suitable. Also there may be specific conditions that may require care more than that of a group session.

More recent studies have begun to explore MBCT for non-clinical population. For instance, results from a study suggested that MBCT help reduced anxiety and low mood levels and dysfunctional attitudes during what is normally a stressful episode, and that these low levels were maintained over follow-up compared to those who did not go through MBCT.

Fundamentally, the 8-week programme enables us to become more familiar with the workings of our own mind and we learn to pay attention intentionally, in the present moment and non-judgementally.

As such, MBCT is increasingly recognised as a way that one can use to deal more skilfully with the stresses and strains of daily living.

The systematic training over 8 weeks in MBCT helps participants to access a healthier mode of mind characterized by ‘acceptance’ and ‘being’. Turning awareness toward the present moment can result in a vivid contact with the ‘richness’ every moment holds, and is a pivotal resource for enhancing well-being.

Supervision to maintain delivery integrity

Some MBCT groups are offered as part of development and training. In such cases, permission will be obtained from participants before video recording; the video camera will be directed only at the facilitators. This is primarily for the facilitators and therapists to reflect on their work and for supervision purposes.
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