You’ve probably heard of mindfulness meditation, but what exactly is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)? This form of therapy uses mindfulness practices like breathing exercises and meditation to help clients break free of negative thought patterns.
What Can MBCT Treat?
MBCT was first developed to prevent individuals who were struggling with repeating episodes of depression and anxiety from relapsing. Studies have found MBCT to be very effective at helping people with major depressive disorder who have experienced at least 3 instances of depression in their life. This therapy approach may also be helpful in improving the symptoms of depression in those with disease and physical illness, such as cancer and traumatic brain injuries.
How Does Mindfulness Help Depression?
You may think that meditation is something only monks or yoga masters do, but everyday people are reaping the major mind and body benefits through mindfulness meditation. Depressed people suffer rumination, that is they become stuck in mental patterns. They often mistake their rumination for problem-solving, but in reality, rumination prolongs a negative mental state.
Meditation works by disrupting the mental process of rumination. When you focus your mental attention on the present moment, you cannot ruminate. While it’s hard for any person to completely stop the mental process of rumination, it’s our choice whether or not we engage with it. Meditation helps us “just say no.”
How to Find an MBCT Therapist
MBCT is usually held in group sessions once weekly for 2-hours each. The meditations and breath work will be led by your therapist. He or she will not only lead you in these techniques but also the fundamentals of cognition, such as the relationship between your thoughts and how they make you feel. Your therapist will also most likely give you homework to practice the breathing and meditation techniques you’ve learned that week.
An MBCT therapist is a cognitive behavioral therapist who will have had additional training in mindfulness-based practices and techniques and is able to teach these to others. Beyond looking for these specific credentials, you’ll also want to find a therapist you feel comfortable working with. After doing a bit of research for qualified therapists in your area, get on the phone and talk to a few to see who you may like working with the best.