Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

As the name suggests, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) blends two styles of therapy into one. Whereas traditionally cognitive therapy aims to actively indentify and then alter unhelpful thoughts in people, mindfulness as we know is all about identifying and accepting thoughts from the observer position without passing judgement.

MBCT is about changing the clients’ relationship to their negative thoughts by accepting that they are part of life, but we can build cognitive resilience with the right mental schema. As such, MBCT should not be misunderstood as meditation exercises aiming to bring relaxation or some sort of illusive happiness, but rather control of thought processes and therefore freedom from otherwise automatically generating negative thoughts and feelings.

‘Responding rather than reacting through focused attention – recognising unhelpful thought patterns and then deliberately breaking away from them in order to stop an otherwise vicious cycle of negativity’ may best describe the aim of MBCT.

In other words, once a practitioner notices negative thought patterns arising, he or she is required to shift attention to the here and now, on that which is ‘actually happening’ instead of allowing to generate thoughts associated with what ‘might’, ‘could’ or ‘should’ be happening, hence through cancelling out anything but the present moment, judgement cannot be placed.

In summary, the technique of MBCT entails the following benefits:

  1. The recognition that holding on to some feelings is ineffective
  2. Instead of turning away from our thoughts and feelings, all are welcome without judgement and we are open and experience whatever comes before the ‘observer’ without activating our defences that would normally be activated once a threat is perceived.

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