MBCT- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Jon Kabat-Zinn established mindfulness as a tool for therapy in the late 1970s at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre’s Stress Reduction Clinic. That program was very successful. Thus, it gave the push for MBCT to become a renowned treatment. It was first developed as a group skill training session. It aimed at the episodes between depression attacks. MBCT addressed the vulnerability of this major issue. MBCT is also a part of CBT.

Defining Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy – MBCT

MBCT plays a major role in those who are struggling not to relapse into depression. How we think, and deal with our ups and downs, gives reality to who we are. Whether we like it or not, our reactions and our thinking are what makes us. However, this can be very confusing. Especially, if we have to go through what we don’t want to. Having to make a bunch of decisions that we would not have if we had the choice. The impact on one’s mental health when put under stress is never the best. That is where MBCT becomes important.

Combining mental health with every small action of day-to-day life to improve the overall quality of life is the main goal of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. It is a part of psychotherapy. MBCT also holds an aspect of cognitive therapy. It is a combination of behavioural techniques, guided by mindful strategies. These lead an individual to understand and dive deep into themselves. Thus they cope with their mental health in healthier and soothing ways.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is mostly used to bring solace to those who suffer from depression. These techniques incorporate mindful activities, that are simple and very easy to follow. These techniques and practices help an individual free themselves from feeling helpless and lonely. In other words, depression. Practising these soulful methods as soon as one realizes they need help, will be a practical way of fighting depression before it consumes an individual and severely impacts their lives. By recognizing and giving colour to what we deal with in ourselves every day, the battle becomes easy to fight.

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy vs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT)

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a part of cognitive behavioural therapy.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy is an attempt in turning negative feelings into positive ones. A CBT professional will help an individual understand what is bothering them. They will guide them through a process that will help them turn their troublesome thoughts into positive ones. CBT is based on the understanding that our emotions are reactions to our thoughts. Thus, CBT focuses on attending to the thoughts that create a negative impact on an individual.

Similarly, MBCT deals with our thoughts and emotions as well. However, the process followed by MBCT professionals is slightly different. In MBCT, an individual is taught to alienate themselves from the process of thinking. To take a break from challenging themselves by trying to change their way of thinking. In other words, an individual is taught to distance themselves from what bothers them. This is to identify their impact to treat it without judgment.

This process is meant to break off the stress that happens by challenging one’s thoughts. As mentioned earlier, MBCT is mostly used on depressed individuals. It is likely to give them a new approach to life. That is by helping them find a way to deal with their emotions. The understanding of it being okay to not be able to overpower these negative thoughts are likely to ease someone. Especially someone who is trying very hard to rise above them. It is indeed a much-needed break for a tired mind.

Techniques of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy

MBCT is completely built on being mindful. Thus, all its techniques are decided in a way that affects the mind. The most important direction is to learn and understand their thoughts without judging them. It is okay to feel a certain way. But why do you feel so? How strongly do you feel?

Below are a few techniques used in MBCT.

Body scan method

Individuals begin the Body Scan exercise by lying down on their backs with their palms facing up and their feet slightly apart. Sitting on a comfortable chair with their feet on the floor works too. Then, they lie quite motionless for the length of the exercise. If they need to change their posture, they do it intentionally and with awareness.

The MBCT professional that guides this exercise then leads the group through the Body Scan. It starts with bringing awareness to the breath. Noticing the rhythm and experience of breathing in and out. He/she then advises that participants should not strive to change their breathing patterns; instead, they should simply maintain a calm awareness of their breathing.

Next, the guide focuses on the body. How it feels, the texture of clothing against the skin, the shapes of the surface on which the body is lying, and the body’s and environment’s temperatures. The participants are then told to focus their attention on any regions of their bodies that are tingling, painful, or feel unusually heavy or light. The facilitator instructs the participants to make a list of any places of their body where they have no sensations or are more sensitive.

A body scan follows a typical order. The MBCT professional that guides you through the process will inform you.

Mindfulness in daily activities for MBCT

This method refers to being mindful even while engaging in the most insignificant activities. Simple activities can sometimes be the most beneficial. This is especially true in the case of MBCT.

This can refer to the below practices.

Mindful eating for MBCT

Turning your whole attention to whatever you’re eating is what mindful eating is all about. Turn off any distractions including the Internet, TV, radio, and smartphone. Allow all of your senses to focus on the task of eating.

Mindful bathing for MBCT

This is a simple exercise for beginners. Pay attention to the temperature of the water as it strikes your body. The feel of the spray, the smell of the shampoo, and the sensation of lathering soap against your skin when showering. If your mind wanders during your shower, which as usual, gradually draw it back to the present. Think about what you see, hear, and smell.

Mindful kitchen work for MBCT

You can especially try being mindful when you are washing dishes.

When you simply have a few dishes to wash, try this exercise.

Keep an eye on the filthy dishes while you scrape or sponge them. Take note of the textures, images, and noises associated with dishwashing. You can even concentrate on the smell. However, whether or not this is a good idea is debatable.

Mindful exercise for MBCT

As previously mentioned, mindful exercising is an excellent method to involve mindfulness for a healthy lifestyle. Turn off the television and the music, and say your goodbyes to friends and family for a few minutes. Concentrate your attention on how your muscles feel, how you move, and the rate at which your breath changes.

Allow yourself to really enjoy the benefits of exercising without the distractions of discomfort or heavy breathing, which we are all too familiar with.

Mindful stretching for MBCT

Mindfulness takes place in a variety of settings throughout the day. This is including during physical activity.

Rushing to the workout, on the other hand, can be a lost opportunity to mentally and physically prepare for physical exertion.

Stretching before a workout is beneficial for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • For humans, it’s a natural and instinctual movement.
  • Stretching on a regular basis improves flexibility and
  • Enhances the range of motion.
  • By sending a surge of oxygen to the muscles, stretching improves and enhances circulation.
  • Stretching is enjoyable.

There are a few types of mindful stretching that you can involve yourself in, such as Yoga and Pandiculation.

Three-minute breathing

The three-minute breathing space is a simple practice that may be completed in three simple steps:

The first minute is spent answering the question, “How am I doing right now?”. That is while focusing on the feelings, thoughts, and sensations that occur. Attempt to assign words and phrases to these feelings, ideas, and experiences.

The second minute is to maintain breath awareness. The final minute is to shift the focus of attention away from the breath and toward bodily sensations. Think of when and how they affect the rest of the body.

Practising mindfulness whenever the opportunity arises will help you maintain a healthy sense of awareness and balance throughout your day.

How does MBCT work?

MBCT program is 8 weeks long. It is based on allowing participants to explore their mindset. This includes understanding the causes of depression and also relapses. By being aware of how the mind works, they have the ability to remove themselves from what depresses them. It is almost an out-of-body approach. The goal is to identify the problems and solve them without judging oneself. This method has been found to be successful in depression patients for exactly this reason. By being able to see what causes their mood swings, they gain an understanding of how best to deal with them.

Importance of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy

MBCT has been shown to be successful in treating those who have had episodes of depression. While it was created to treat depression, it has also been proved to be useful for a variety of other applications, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, mood swings, general unhappiness, and most importantly to prevent relapses of formerly depressed persons.

People can learn how to use mindfulness meditation. That is to stop the automatic processes that lead to depression. During a depressive episode, low mood, negative thoughts, and certain bodily feelings such as exhaustion are common. Even after the incident has passed, links between the many symptoms may still exist. A tiny negative stimulus might set off a massive relapse. Researchers discovered that when people with a history of depression are down, they are more likely to have negative memories and thoughts from the past. This can lead to anxiety about the future.

CBT is based on the idea that thoughts come before moods and that incorrect self-beliefs contribute to negative feelings like depression. MBCT uses components of cognitive therapy to help you detect and review disturbing thought patterns and replace them with more realistic positive ones. This method allows people to reflect on their thoughts. Living in the past or the future does little good. MBCT promotes clarity of thinking and equips you with the tools you need to let go of negative thoughts. This stops allowing them to feed your despair. MBCT, like cognitive therapy, is based on the idea that if you have a history of depression and feel upset. You will likely resort to the habitual cognitive processes that started a previous depressive episode.

Is MBCT for you?

MBCT therapy can be especially useful for those who are,

  • suffering from depression or chronic anxiety
  • suffered from depression and may relapse
  • advised to continue antidepressant medicine
  • experiencing bipolar disorder
  • having frequent mood swings
  • interested in learning about stress, depression to avoid them

You don’t have to have depression to seek MBCT. One can always reach out to a professional before things get bad. Learning about these issues and practising mindfulness will pave the way to increasing the quality of life.

However, it may not be the best idea to attend an MBCT program while experiencing severe depression symptoms. Best to wait it out, until better enough to focus on improvement. The general negative mood may easily lead these patients to give up on MBCT. While MBCT is one of the most effective treatment methods, giving up on it when one is not ready for help may lose out on an amazing opportunity.


Concerns regarding MBCT

As with every other medical approach, MBCT has its own concerns and limitations.

The effectiveness of MBCT is supported by a large body of evidence. It has generally produced favourable benefits for persons in treatment, according to the study. However, because this is a new therapeutic option, the long-term benefits of this technique may not yet be fully understood.

However, research on the success of MCBT for active or severe depression is still underway, so discuss your symptoms with your doctor to see if this method is right for you.

The classroom component of MBCT is important. However, much of the work is completed outside of class.

Participants get homework to complete. These include listening to recorded guided meditations and practising mindfulness in their daily lives. This could entail using MBCT skills like cleaning your teeth, showering, washing the dishes, exercising, or making your bed to everyday activities like brushing your teeth, bathing, washing the dishes, exercising, or making your bed.

If you feel the need to try MBCT, research the optional therapists around your area.