Mindfulness based Therapies
Mindfulness based therapies started off as therapies that were implemented to prevent relapse in people suffering with depression. Breathing, meditation and mindfulness exercises are used in the therapy environment to help the client manage negative thoughts. This type of therapy is often referred to as MCBT or mindfulness based cognitive therapy. Using these tools, the depression therapist can then teach the client how to break away from the negative thought patterns that they are experiencing. This is useful for clients that risk the downward spiral into a deep depression. The skills gained through MBCT help to prevent deep and lingering depression before it happens.
Who is it for?
Mindfulness based therapies are best for clients that have suffered from multiple bouts of severe depression. It is also considered a good form of treatment for those that have suffered depression as a result of brain injury, addictions and anxiety disorders and physical conditions such as vascular disease.
How it works
Rather than resisting, trying to ignore or to resist feelings that create negative emotion, mindfulness creates an environment where these thoughts and feelings are accepted. Once these thoughts and feelings have been accepted the way a person relates to them can be altered. By accepting the thoughts and feelings, the person practicing the mindfulness techniques creates self-awareness for themselves. Sufficiently so that they can change the relationship these thoughts have with the way they respond to them both physically and emotionally. While giving the thoughts and feelings space to exist, the client manages their relevance in a way that excludes them from the negative effect that they have. This in turn changes the way their brain and in turn their body responds to those thoughts.
During mindfulness based therapy the client will be guided through the mindfulness process and the relevant techniques including meditation. These techniques empower the client to establish through self awareness how their thought and feelings make an impact on their wellbeing. Once this has been achieved it becomes much easier to see how these emotional and thought processes are related. By changing the way, we think about the emotions we experience, we can change the outcome. Gaining self awareness though mindfulness and meditation enables the client to prevent the same thoughts and emotions from continually chipping away their inner strength.
Rather than deny and repress stressful experiences and thoughts, people can manage them through this awareness. It takes the development of skills and techniques to be able to practice this effectively, but once mastered mindfulness changes the quality of life for many. The concept is not new, and mindfulness has been part of the traditions practiced by the Buddhist for centuries.
Outcomes from mindfulness based therapies
Clients that have undergone this treatment successfully report feeling more aware and awake. They also sat they have been able to break free from emotional patterns that are bad for them. An increase in compassion not only towards others but toward themselves too becomes noticeable. People that have had to endure long term physical health conditions report that the benefits have been instrumental in improving their quality of life. (Kabat-Zinn 2003)
Habitual responses to thoughts and feelings about situations, often due to overthinking can be overcome once mindfulness is applied. MCBT is very effective as a preventative therapy for those clients that have been successfully helped to recover from depression or manage it long term. It is also an excellent intervention for those that have suffered long term from physical conditions as well as those that have been recently diagnosed.
How long does it take?
Most therapists take up to eight sessions and you should be sure to be using an accredited depression therapist. MCBT can also be recommended alongside other longer term counselling therapies when the therapist believes it will help other therapies to progress further.
Where to find a therapist
Most Mindfulness based therapist are registered psychologists with the British Psychological Society – BPS and they will also often be accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council, particularly when they work within the NHS. To practice your therapist or counsellor will have to be accredited by a relevant body. To find one you can contact any of the recognised professional bodies that register and regulate mental health professionals.