What You Need To Know About Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness Based Cognitive TherapyMindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a new, scientifically tested program designed to help folks who suffer severely from repeated bouts of chronic sadness and depression.

MBCT merges:

  • the idea of cognitive therapy with
  • controlled meditative practices and
  • attitudes anchored on the development of mindfulness.

The main point of MBCT lies in becoming accustomed to the modes of mind that so often characterize mood disorder while at the same time learning to propagate a new relationship to them.

This therapy is an innovative and empirically validated medical care program invented to guide against relapse in people who are recovering from depression. It includes simple meditation procedures to help patients become more in tune with their present moment experience by focusing on the moment-to-moment changes in the mind and the body.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale, based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program.

Watch this short animation video about what MBCT is:

[su_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/wjXXvtGEZQQ” height=”500″]http://youtu.be/wjXXvtGEZQQ[/su_youtube]

Goals of MBCT

The general goals of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy include targeting the critical risk processes in recurrent depression, i.e. patient’s propensity to react to small alterations in their mood with disproportionate amounts of negative self-centered thinking. Also, this therapy tutors patients to take note of the propensity to ruminate earlier in its sequence so that more skillful methods can be used in responding to whatever is causing it.

With MBCT, patients are taught to recognize the state of mind they are in, to enable them, if they choose, to change from excessive analytical mode to an experimental and mindful state. In other words, it encourages patients to alter their relationship with their own feelings, thoughts and body sensations, so they can have the chance to discover that these are fleeting events in the body and mind which they can choose to or not to engage with.

Beyond the usefulness in reducing depression, studies also support the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on reducing substance craving and addiction. Addiction is known to involve weakening of the prefrontal cortex that normally allows for delaying of instant gratification for long-term benefits by the limbic and paralimbic brain regions.

[su_pullquote align=”left”]Mindfulness meditation of long-term smokers over a period of two-week totaling five hours of meditation reduced smoking by over 60% and reduced their cravings, even for confirmed smokers in the experiment who had no prior intentions to quit.[/su_pullquote]

Interesting Fact


Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Reoccurring Depression

Although MBCT is used as an alternative therapy for depression, studies show that it is most effective with patients who have a known history of at least three or more past episodes of reoccurring depression. Within that segment of patients, people with life-event triggered depressive episodes were not too receptive of MBCT. A 2016 meta-analysis discovered MBCT to be very effective for preventing relapses of depressive episodes among those patients with depression, especially if they had more residual symptoms.

Research supports that MBCT results in increased self-reported mindfulness which suggests increased present-moment awareness, de-centering, and acceptance, in addition to decreased maladaptive cognitive processes such as judgment, reactivity, rumination, and thought suppression.

Immense Benefits of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy or MBCT is a constructive mix of two very diverse approaches – Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) which centers on changing out thought patterns in order to change our behaviors and the immensely effective meditative practice of mindfulness, a process of recognizing our thoughts on a moment-to-moment basis while trying not to pass judgment on them. While Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has always stressed the end result of changing one’s thoughts, mindfulness really seeks to know how a person thinks – the thinking process – to help patients be more effective in dealing with negative.

This, evidently, is a new add-on approach to traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and has recently gained more publicity as folks look to simplify their lives, and as many more people learn about the benefits of meditation. So the question is: does it work and what are the benefits? Well, according to recent research, yes. Studies have shown that Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy has immense benefits to the mind and the body. Here are some of the benefits that can be derived from MBCT.


Several studies have demonstrated that MBCT reduces rumination. In one study, for instance, Chambers et al. (2008) asked 20 novice mediators to partake in a 10-day rigorous mindfulness meditation retreat. After the retreat, the meditation party had a significantly high self-reported mindfulness and a highly decreased negative effect when compared with a control group.  More so, the mediators had a remarkably increased working memory and were also able to sustain attention longer during performance tasks compared with the control group.


Many studies have demonstrated that MBCT reduces stress. In 2010, Hoffman et al. carried out a meta-analysis of 39 studies that explored the use of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. The researchers concluded that MBCT may be effective in changing affective and cognitive processes that cause multiple clinical issues. Those discoveries are consistent with proving that mindfulness meditation increases positive effects while decreasing anxiety and negative effects in the mind and body.


It has also been proven that MBCT decreases emotional reactivity. In a study of people who had somewhere between one month to 29 years of mindfulness meditation practice, researchers discovered that mindfulness meditation practice helped folks disengage from emotional disturbing images and enabled them to better focus on a cognitive task as compared to people who saw the images but did not engage in mindfulness meditation (Ortner et al., 2007)


Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is also known to increase relationship satisfaction. Several studies have demonstrated that a person’s ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction – the ability to react well to relationship stress and the skill of effectively communicating one’s emotions to a loved one. There is also empirical evidence that suggests that MBCT protects against emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflicts and is also positively associated with the ability to express oneself in social situations.


Finally, researchers have concluded that in addition to helping people become less reactive, MBCT may also give them greater cognitive flexibility. One study found that people who undergo MBCT appear to develop the skill of constant self-observation, which neurologically disengages the automatic pathways that were generated by past learning and enables present-moment input to be incorporated in anew.

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