Mindfulness

Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy

What is Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy? A therapist who employs mindfulness meditation techniques as part of the counseling process or one who teaches such techniques to clients as part of a program of stress-reduction, is said to be practising “Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy” (MBS).

Mindfulness Meditation includes many different techniques and approaches. In therapy, many counselors use a clinical form of meditation – one that focuses on meditative techniques such as following the breath, scanning the body to become aware of physical sensations or naming thoughts and feelings as they arise. The goal in clinical mindfulness meditation is to help the client become aware of, and accepting of, his or her full experience as it occurs moment by moment. Awareness and acceptance leads to release of stress, sadness, anger and anxiety. At the same time, attention to the present moment helps reduce and eventually eliminate harmful thought processes such as destructive rumination, worry, self-blame, judgement, negativity and more. A client who learns the skill of mindfulness meditation tends to become calmer and happier over time.

Mindfulness

Long term meditation has been shown to have positive effects on physiology and brain structure, as well as on emotional, mental and intellectual functioning. People who experience Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy may gain much more than solving the original problem that brought them to therapy. They may learn a skill that they can employ independently for the rest of their lives – a skill that can offer a constant source of comfort, stress-reduction, insight and illumination.

Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy is utilized in the treatment of addictions, anger management, stress, depression, anxiety, traumatic stress, personality disorders and other conditions. Some therapies (like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) have a strong mindfulness component embedded within the treatment approach. The name “Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy” is used to refer to any therapeutic approach that includes or centers around mindfulness interventions.

It should be noted that there are some therapists who employ mindfulness meditation in the context of “Buddhist Psychology” – a particular philosophy of life that includes a Buddhist approach to self-development and enlightenment. Buddhist Psychology is not synonymous with Mindfulness Based Meditation. However, the two are often thought to be one and the same because mindfulness meditation is one of the primary tools of Buddhist Psychology. In fact, meditation is a prominent tool in many different religious and spiritual schools. Nonetheless, meditation itself is completely neutral. It can be used for psychological healing and growth without being attached to any particular philosophy or religious practice. To illustrate this point: a person can have a cup of tea as part of a mindfulness practice in which the whole process of making, serving and drinking the tea becomes a deep meditation that spiritually elevates the practitioner. Alternatively, a person can just have a cup of tea to quench his thirst. There are many different types of “cups of tea” that can operate on spiritual, emotional and/or physical levels. Similarly, a person can meditate as part of the Buddhist path in life, or a person can meditate as part of a different spiritual path, or he can meditate as part of a personal emotional growth process, or he can meditate as a strategy for reducing stress or he can meditate as a strategy for reducing physical pain. Like tea, meditation itself is neutral and can be used in many different ways to achieve different goals. Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy employs mindfulness meditation to help clients achieve personal goals such as feeling less stressed, worried or irritable. MBP is most often used along with other therapeutic interventions, forming an important part of a larger therapeutic process.