Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale, based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR program. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is designed to help people who experience repeated bouts of depression and low mood. It combines the ideas of cognitive therapy with meditative practices and attitudes based on the cultivation of mindfulness. The heart of this work lies in becoming acquainted with the modes of mind that often characterise low mood, while simultaneously learning to develop a new relationship to them. Techniques from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are integrated into the program to promote greater awareness of these patterns and mindfulness practices are used to disengage from them. The focus is on changing one’s relationship to unwanted thoughts, feelings and body sensations so participants no longer try to avoid them or react to them automatically, but rather respond to them in an intentional and skilful manner.
Similar to MBSR, the MBCT programme has been researched extensively. The UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently endorsed MBCT as an effective treatment for prevention of relapse in depression. Research has shown that people who have been clinically depressed 3 or more times (sometimes for twenty years or more) find that taking the program and learning these skills helps to significantly reduce their chances that depression will return. The evidence from two randomised clinical trials of MBCT indicates that it reduces rates of relapse by 50% among patients who suffer from recurrent depression.
This program is most beneficial for those who have experienced recurring depression, however in the last 20 years MBCT has also shown to be helpful for a broader population and is suitable for anyone interested in an opportunity to learn a new way of relating to unwanted thoughts and feelings and to improve skills for responding to them in an intentional and skilful manner. MBCT is supportive in terms of learning ways to deal the ordinary stresses of everyday life, relationships and family, anxiety, low self esteem/confidence, poor sleep etc.
The MBCT runs over 8 consecutive weeks, with classes running for 2.5 hours long. Participants will be guided to learn various mindfulness practices, with an emphasis on gradually learning how to relate differently to negative thoughts that may typically lead to spells of low mood. Along with mindful meditations, the class also involves some educational materials, group discussions and exercises.
A commitment to all sessions, and daily home practice of 45 minutes per day is required. There will also be a full day of practice-as per MBSR-where participants will be able to engage with an extended period of mindfulness practice.