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Two Dried Leaves


Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an approach to psychotherapy that uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) methods, in collaboration with mindfulness meditative practices and strategies (Seligman et al., 1993). Patients can become adept at learning heightened awareness, acceptance of negative thought patterns, and an increased ability to respond in a skillful way. During MBCT individuals learn to decenter negative thoughts and feelings, allowing themselves to move away from these automatic patterns, to conscious emotional processing (Herbert et al., 2011). 

Within MBCT, “decentering” is a focus on becoming aware of all incoming thoughts and feelings, and accepting them, without attaching or reacting (Hoffman et al., 2010). This is to assist an individual in disengaging from self-criticism, and rumination, which may emerge when reacting to negative cognitions or thinking patterns (Hayes et al., 2011-01-01).

Like CBT, MBCT functions on the premise that when individuals become distressed, they return to an automatic cognitive process that can trigger a depressive episode (Felder et al., 2012). One of MBCT’s main objectives is to interrupt these mechanized processes by educating individuals how to focus less on reacting to received stimuli, and to accept and observe without judgment (Felder et al., 2012). These mindfulness exercises encourage individuals to notice when automatic processes are occurring and to adjust this initial reaction to be more of a reflection.

MBCT centralizes focus on illuminating how to pay attention and/or concentrate with purpose, in each moment and, without judgment (Fulton et al., 2005). Through mindfulness, clients can recognize that holding onto some of these feelings is ineffective and destructive. MBCT encourages individuals to recognize and be aware of feelings instead of focusing on changing feelings (Kuyken et al., 2015). 

  1. Felder, J. N.; Dimidjian, S.; Segal, Z. (2012). "Collaboration in Mindfulness-Based CognitiveTherapy". Journal of Clinical Psychology.  (2): 179–186. 

  2. Fulton, P., Germer, C., Siegel, R. (2005).  New York: Guilford Press.

  3. Hayes, Steven C.; Villatte, Matthieu; Levin, Michael; Hildebrandt, Mikaela (2011-01-01). "Open, Aware, and Active: Contextual Approaches as an Emerging Trend in the Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies". Annual Review of Clinical Psychology.  (1): 141–168. 

  4. Hofmann, S. G.; Sawyer, A. T.; Fang, A. (2010). "The Empirical Status of the "New Wave" of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy". Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 33 (3): 701–710. 

  5. Kuyken, Willem; Watkins, Ed; Holden, Emily; White, Kat; Taylor, Rod S.; Byford, Sarah; Evans, Alison; Radford, Sholto; Teasdale, John D. (November 2010). "How does mindfulness-based cognitive therapy work?". Behaviour Research and Therapy.  (11): 1105–1112. 

  6. Seligman & Reichenberg, Linda & Lourie (2014). Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. pp. 354–356. 

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy: Services
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