Mindfulness-based therapy approaches promote a focus on awareness and acceptance of the present moment.

What is Mindfulness Based Therapy?

Jon Kabat-Zin first developed what is called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction therapy in 1979 for individuals with chronic pain. Since that time, mindfulness techniques have become researched and proven to be effective for a wide variety of mental health issues.

Jon Kabat-Zin has defined mindfulness as, “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness based therapy approaches emphasize a present-moment focus for individuals. When people are practicing mindfulness, they discover how to pay attention to thoughts, feelings and body sensations that arise in the present moment. In doing so, mindfulness-based approaches  teach individuals to be both present and nonjudgmental of their current thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. This can be challenging to do as we may encounter thoughts, feelings and behaviours that we do not always want to experience. 

When taking a mindfulness-based therapy approach we learn that thoughts and feelings do not have a permanence to them. We can let them come and go without needing to change them or make them different. During these interventions, people learn mindful breathing, body scan, mindful walking, mindful eating and the ability to do other routine activities with a mindful stance. These skills allow individuals to ground themselves in the present moment. During mindfulness based therapy approaches, individuals learn that they are able to accept thoughts and feelings as they are and let them pass through their mind without judgement or evaluation.

The richness of present-moment experience is the richness of life itself. Too often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we ‘know’ prevent us from seeing things as they really are.

Jon Kabat Zinn

What Are Different Types of Mindfulness Based Therapy Approaches?

There are different types of mindfulness-based approaches that are practiced. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy was developed by Dr. Zindel Segal, Dr. Mark Williams and Dr. John Teasdale. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy incorporates both cognitive behavioural strategies as well as mindfulness skills. During this approach you will learn evidence-based skills such as connections between thoughts, feelings, behaviours and body sensations. You will also learn about thoughts being “just thoughts” and being able to allow thoughts to come and go. Mindfulness techniques often also include mindful eating, various meditations, recognizing aversion(and how to shift perspective from that) and allowing things to be as they are. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy has been found to be effective for depression relapse prevention as well as anxiety and OCD.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction was developed by John Kabat-Zin and his colleagues in the 1970s. It was first developed to help individuals with chronic illness who were note able to benefit from more traditional forms of medicine at that time. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is typically offered as an eight-week mindfulness training program. It is an evidence-based intervention and is currently delivered to individuals with a wide variety of presenting issues, including:

  • Stress management
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Sleep-related issues
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Chronic illnesses (i.e., cancer, diabetes)

Mindfulness-based stress reduction programs focus on a variety of mindfulness techniques. These include:

  • Mindfulness meditation (in varying lengths of time)
  • Body scan practice
  • Mindful yoga postures
  • Group discussions and reflections regarding mindful practice as well as thoughts and emotional responses
  • Formal and informal mindfulness practices

Informal mindfulness techniques involve bringing the stance of mindfulness to daily routine (and often automatic) activities. This could include mindful walking, mindful eating, mindful toothbrushing, and mindful laundry practice. This list is endless! In doing so one starts to gain present moment awareness during activities where their mind usually wanders. If you want to learn more about Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, you can read his book entitled Full Catastrophe Living

What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?

As described, mindfulness based therapy has been well-researched and found to be effective for a wide variety of presenting issues. Mindfulness techniques are part of stand-alone approaches, such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. It is also integrated into other approaches. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy incorporates mindfulness techniques as does Acceptance Commitment Therapy. In the latter approach, we often refer to present moment awareness as a skill that can begin to allow one to unhook from difficult thoughts and feelings.

Overall, individuals have shown great benefit from the incorporation of mindfulness into their treatment programs as these skills allow for one to enhance their present moment awareness. In doing so it can become more possible to learn to let go of intrusive thoughts, ruminative thoughts and pervasive anxiety. 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Graphic

Does FTPS Offer Mindfulness-Based Therapy?

Does FTPS offer mindfulness based therapy near me? Our associates at FTPS use mindfulness based therapy approaches for a variety of clinical issues. We deliver it as stand-alone intervention and also incorporate mindfulness techniques into both individual therapy and group therapy approaches.

Frequently Asked Questions

Examples of mindfulness based therapy approaches include Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction as well as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. In both these approaches there is a focus on a variety of mindfulness techniques, including breathing meditations, body scanning, mindful yoga and reflections on the practice of these skills. 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is also an evidence-based practice that incorporates mindfulness techniques. This is usually referred to as the skill of present moment awareness. In learning this type of mindfulness exercise, individuals become more aware of thoughts and feelings in the present moment.

In doing so people can then learn to unhook from difficult thoughts and feelings in the present moment that might be pulling them away from their values and what matters to them. This allows adults and teens to then focus on moving towards important activities and events in their lives. Present moment awareness provides an opportunity to make choices that one might otherwise have not been able to make.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy have similarities as well as some differences. 

In Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, individuals learn about unhelpful thinking styles and how to reframe these unhelpful thoughts. In doing so, one is able to gain perspective regarding their thoughts and accompanying feelings and behaviours. One learns that thoughts are not facts and we can shift the way in which we view anxious thoughts or depressive thoughts. Some traditional skills learned during Cognitive Behaviour Therapy include: psychoeducation about thoughts, feelings and behaviours; behavioural experiments; thought record work; and core belief work. 

In Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, one is also learning to reframe their thoughts in order to gain perspective. However, there are also skills that one learns to make space from their thoughts and learn to let them come and go. Individuals learn to “watch” their thoughts without getting caught up in them. As our thoughts become less frequent and interfering, we can watch them without thinking that we need to act on them. Skills learned in MBCT include critical mindfulness techniques, including: mindful breathing, formal and informal mindful practice, mindful eating, mindful walking, body scanning, mindful yoga and practice reflections. 

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