Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a relatively recent type of therapy that combines aspects of cognitive therapy with the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program created by Jon Kabat-Zinn. MBCT was developed to help people struggling with depression, and it is also helpful in treating anxiety and low self-esteem.
The following description of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and how it helps people overcome depression is taken from the MBCT webpage of Mark Williams, one of the developers of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. His book The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness expands on the information below.
How will Mindfulness practice help me?
- Mindfulness will help you discover what makes you vulnerable to downward mood spirals, and why you get stuck at the bottom of the spiral.
- Mindfulness will help you see the connection between downward spirals, and:
- Unrealistic high standards that oppress us;
- Feelings of inadequacy and that we are simply “not good enough”;
- Ways we put pressure on ourselves or make ourselves miserable with overwork;
- Ways we lose touch with what makes life worth living.
How does mindfulness help reduce the downward mood spirals of depression?
- Mindfulness practice helps us to see more clearly the patterns of the mind; and to learn how recognize when our mood is beginning to go down. This means we can “nip it in the bud” much earlier than before.
- Mindfulness teaches us a way in which we can live out lives more fully, notice the small pleasures around us, and get back in touch with the experience of being alive .
- When we’re depressed we get flooded with negative memories and thoughts of the past and worries about the future. Mindfulness teaches us to focus on the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
- When we start to feel low, we tend to react as if our emotions were a problem to be solved: we start trying to use our critical thinking strategies which leads to over-thinking, brooding, ruminating, living in our heads. Mindfulness teaches us to shift mental gears, from the mode of mind dominated by critical thinking (likely to provoke and accelerate downward mood spirals) to another mode of mind in which we experience the world directly, non-conceptually, and non-judgmentally.
- We often try to suppress or push away our unwanted thoughts or emotions, but this tends to just bring them back even stronger. Mindfulness develops our willingness and capacity to be open to even painful emotions. It helps give us the courage to allow distressing moods, thoughts and sensations to come and go, without battling with them and making them even stronger.
I’m a Toronto therapist incorporating traditional and mindfulness-based approaches to therapy to help people overcome issues such as depression, anxiety, stress and low self-esteem. For more information about how you could benefit from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, visit my mindfulness therapy webpage. To make an appointment for counselling or therapy, please call me at 416-516-6024 or email email@example.com.