Curious about mindfulness? And looking for a practical therapy that can help you with depression and negative thinking? MBCT could be for you.
What is MBCT?
Mindfulness means we train our focus to be in the present moment, and away from the worries and regrets running through our minds and constantly distracting us.
'Cognitive' refers to our mental processes. Cognitive therapies like CBT focus on recognising and changing dysfunctional thinking patterns, along with the unhelpful behaviors and emotional responses they are related to.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) combines both of these approaches. It uses acceptance and awareness to help you change your thinking, make better choices for yourself, and experience better moods.
But isn't mindfulness just meditation?
Mindfulness is certainly a part of meditation, and you and your MBCT therapist might decide to integreate meditation into your sessions.
But mindfulness, or being present-focused, is simply a state of being we can bring to each moment. It's shown by research to really help with daily coping and general wellbeing.1
In therapy sessions, mindfulness teaches us to let negative moods, sensations and thoughts drift in without having to react or battle against them. The purpose is to learn how to concentrate on each moment without judgement, and recognise that holding on to negative feelings is unhelpful.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression
Originally designed to help those with recurring depression, MBCT has consistently been shown by studies to decrease your risk of regression.2
As well as depression, MBCT can be helpful for:
- anxiety and stress
- bipolar disorder
- low moods connected to illness
- negative thinking.
Our welcoming central London therapy clinics
We take the stress out of choosing a mindfulness-based cognitive therapist. We have a thorough vetting process and only work with therapists trained at top institutions with a minimum of ten years post-graduate experience.
If you’re unable, or prefer not to come for therapy in person, online therapy is another way to seek support. All therapists offer online therapy sessions using platforms such as Skype, Facetime, Zoom, etc. All therapy sessions last for 50 minutes and our fee structure is very simple.
What does a talk therapy session consist of?
Like all forms of talk therapy, your therapist will ask targeted questions and then listen carefully to your responses, reflecting back what they hear. But MBCT is also a very practical form of therapy. So sessions can involve exercises and various tools, like guided meditations, visualisations, and 'body scanning', where your attention shows you where you are holding tension. Note you might also be given homework to do between sessions.
- What is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy?
- Mindfulness: The third wave in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- CBT vs MBCT - what is the difference?
1Keng, Shian-Ling et al. “Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies.” Clinical psychology review vol. 31,6 (2011): 1041-56. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006.
2MacKenzie MB, Kocovski NL. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: trends and developments. Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2016;9:125-132. Published 2016 May 19. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S63949View the Experts
What is the difference between MBCT and MBSR?
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is similar to MBCT as they both use mindfulness to cultivate a better ability to navigate life's challenges. MBSR is usually a time-limited group therapy with a main focus on using acceptance to navigate stress. MBCT also uses acceptance to help with stress. But it is designed to help with ongoing depression, and to this end it quite quickly puts a focus on recognising the link between negative thoughts and low moods. MBCT is also effective as a one-on-one therapy, and can be offered longer-term.
Is MBCT better than CBT?
They are both very effective, evidence-based therapies. MBCT is specifically designed to help with recurrent depression. CBT is also used for PTSD, trauma, and anxiety. The difference is that MBCT works at raising acceptance of life as it is, and of the thoughts and feelings you are having. CBT believes more in assertively changing thinking and behaviours, using interventions that can be quite strong when first experienced. It's really a personal choice as to what one will suit you best. If you are attracted to mindfulness, and to leaning into life, MBCT might be a better fit. If you think you are the type who benefits most from really pushing yourself and your boundaries, and mindfulness seems uninteresting, then CBT would be a better fit.
Is mindfulness-based therapy a holistic therapy?
No. While many holistic practitioners use mindfulness and meditation with clients, this is different than MBCT. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a recognised form of psychotherapy and not a holistic offering. Your MBCT therapist will be a fully trained counsellor or psychotherapist. Mindfulness is a tool here that is combined with psychotherapeutic principles, not the therapy in and of itself.