Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a form of therapy that takes features from both mindfulness techniques and cognitive therapy.
Mindfulness is a state of being in the present moment and aware of one’s body, thoughts, surroundings and feelings. It has roots in Buddhist traditions and has increasingly been adapted for use in therapy. Mindfulness can increase concentration levels and can help both mental and physical conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety, and prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction. Cognitive therapy aims to identify unhelpful and dysfunctional thinking patterns, behaviours and emotional responses, and change them to overcome difficulties. Patients are helped to develop skills to identify distortions in thinking, change and modify their beliefs, and change their behaviours and the way they relate to others. The therapist helps the client test out negative beliefs with the aim of disproving them and therefore decreasing their influence.
The ultimate aim is to let negative moods, sensations and thoughts drift in without having to battle against them, by staying in touch with the present moment. The purpose is to learn how to concentrate on each moment without judgement and recognise that holding on to negative feelings is unhelpful.
Therapy sessions may consist of practise exercises and setting assignments to do outside sessions. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy takes work, and it can be challenging. Clients will need to be committed and willing to do home assignments.