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Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

What kind of therapy is it?

MBCT combines training in mindfulness with insights and techniques from cognitive therapy. Although usually taught in a group across eight sessions, therapists might deliver MBCT to individuals or incorporate MBCT techniques into other individual therapies. 

What problems does it help with?

MBCT was developed to help with relapsing depression, but may be useful for a range of other problems, including anxiety, stress, and addictions. As a mindfulness-based therapy, it is not limited to addressing problems, and can improve your quality of life even if you are already doing well. 

How does it work?

Mindfulness targets some of the basic “design flaws” in the human mind: that we are caught up in our thoughts and often find it hard to tolerate our feelings. By learning mindfulness meditation, and mindfulness “on the go”, we can learn to stand back from unhelpful thinking patterns, accept our feelings, and be present in the here-and-now. When we do that, we can make wise choices about how to live our lives. 

What will a typical session be like?

You will learn meditation, discuss your experiences of it, and try out other exercises and on-the-go mindfulness techniques. You will be asked to meditate each day in between sessions, and to complete some other assignments. Your therapist will be warm and engaged but will be less interested in what you are thinking and feeling than in how you are relating to your thoughts and feelings - they will help you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and at the same time less entangled with them.

What is the evidence?

MBCT is recommended for use in the NHS to prevent relapse in chronic depression. There is also evidence that mindfulness helps with a range of other conditions such as anxiety, stress, burnout, addictions, and the distress associated with chronic health conditions.

Further reading:
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy
Amazon: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world Paperback


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