Three Effective Mindfulness Based Therapies


Any mental health practitioner may incorporate mindfulness meditation training into his or her counseling practice. However, there are three types of therapy that give mindfulness a central role in symptom relief.

These therapies can help people suffering with depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, or personality disorders.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Mindfulness is being attentive to what the present moment offers - whether thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, or events - without passing judgment on what is observed.

Although mindfulness is a centuries old practice it was not discussed as a therapeutic tool until Jon Kabat-Zinn, in the 1970s, began teaching stress reduction and pain management using mindfulness meditation.

Zinn called his method Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and research reveals it is effective. As a holistic treatment, MBSR does not focus on specific illnesses. Trained instructors teach mindfulness meditation and effective life skills that help people manage stress, and symptoms of many physical and mental illnesses.

People offering MBSR should be certified as MBSR trainers through the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. MBSR trainers are not required to be licensed mental health professionals.

DBT, or Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT was created by Marcia Linehan in the early 1990s. She developed DBT to help individuals who have difficulty managing emotions and engaging in successful relationships (borderline personality disorder). DBT has also proven helpful for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

One of the primary symptom management techniques of DBT is mindfulness meditation. All DBT participants are trained and regularly practice attentiveness to things such as tasks, tastes, sounds, or sensations. Because human emotions are easily stirred by chaotic thoughts, knowing how to focus the mind through mindfulness helps people remain in control of their choices and behavior, even when stressed.

DBT therapists must be licensed mental health professionals.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

The teaching and use of mindfulness, though it can be an adjunct to any type of counseling, is most often used with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is an excellent treatment for individuals with major depression or bipolar disorder.

Mindfulness and CBT are a match made in therapeutic heaven. Mindfulness teaches people to be more aware of what they are thinking, feeling, and doing.
Cognitive therapies help people realize how their thoughts, feelings, and behavior affect the quality of their life.

So, MBCT clients become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, and learn how to respond to them with choices and behaviors that effectively get their needs and wants met.

CBT and MBCT counselors are required to be licensed mental health professionals.

Photo credit: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho


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