Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

I will present a brief history of the development of MBCT and hopeful highlight some differences between CBT and MBCT, already sounds confusing. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been a long standing psychotherapy to treat both depression and anxiety. It is an outgrowth of "Rational Emotive Therapy", which was developed by Dr. Albert Ellis. Rational Emotive Therapy was focused on identifying what Ellis called "Irrational Thoughts". In the 1950's Aron Beck from the University of Pennsylvania began to notice that individuals with both anxiety and depression, seemed to have certain thought patterns that triggered emotional episodes. He developed a therapeutic system called "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy". CBT has been a standard treatment for both depression and anxiety for many years, it has proved to be very effective, and it continues to be a standard treatment to address psychiatric symptoms. The focus of this treatment is to help clients become aware of certain thought patterns or "thought loops", so that the client can challenge the thoughts that are having a negative impact on both their mood, and behavior. Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979 introduced to Western Cultures what would become , Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, MBSR. This stress reduction technique was a result of his studies and interest in Buddhism and Yoga. Mindfulness initially became popularized by his books, "Full Catastrophe Living", and "Wherever You Go There You are". This approach to stress reduction became very effective, and universities and hospitals around the world began developing clinics to address stress issues which contributed health related conditions, and to manage chronic pain. Zindel Segal from the University of Toronto combined Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction with CBT to develop a new treatment called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. There are some differences between the two treatments. CBT is focused on identifying and changing what might be called negative thoughts. These are thoughts which are triggers for either depression, anxiety, or some other mental health symptom. The focus is geared mostly toward what happens in our mind, what it is that we are thinking, that intern effects our mood, and ultimately our behavior. For simplicity we might think of this treatment as addressing what happens in our head. In CBT there is an emphasis on changing, or challenging "negative thinking". In MBCT the focus is not only on our thoughts, but also awareness of the present moment, our body, and our breath. Clients are encouraged to be aware of the present moment, and to be accepting of emotional experiences. Much like ACT or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the focus is on changing our relationship with our thoughts and emotions, being aware of them, and suspending judgement on them. Initially MBCT was developed to address relapse prevention for individuals who had success with CBT. It has been shown to be effective for both depression and anxiety. Hopefully this was helpful and not too confusing.

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