The synergy of mindfulness meditation techniques and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy



Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale developed mindfulness cognitive behavioural therapy (MCBT) in 2000. This therapeutic approach is partially based upon Jon Kabat-Zinn’s stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center operating since 1979 used to treat chronic pain patients.

These researchers modified Kabat-Zinn’s work with the aim of helping people who remain vulnerable to repeated episodes of depression to develop additional coping tools. MCBT programs and/or using mindfulness techniques such as meditation within a CBT approach is now being used in other treatment areas as well. Those include anxiety, substance abuse and personality disorders.

Understanding the principle that no mood goes unaltered through the course of time is important for individuals who embrace the idea of incorporating mindfulness-based techniques to treat the nature of his or her psychological distress.

In order to help this insight along, all one has to do is reflect on a recent event that was personally upsetting. Notice how after some time the intensity of your emotional distress eventually diminished sufficiently for you to move forward with your day. Thus, adding mediation to CBT helps individuals discover as they are anchored in the present moment that thinking is an automatic process. Moreover, meditating like CBT helps people learn how thoughts effect moods, behaviour and physiology.

Discovering this sequence of cognitive, emotional and behavioural events through meditating is like watching a domino trick – as the first domino falls it causes the next one to fall and so on. Negative thoughts trigger negative behaviours, emotions, and physiological sensations. Therefore, mindfulness-based strategies combined with CBT are synergistic in that it helps people to manage the automatic nature of unrealistic thoughts.

Both mindfulness and CBT approaches essentially help people to recognize that thoughts do not define the thinker because a thought is just a thought and simply thinking it doesn’t make it so.

There are also many noted health benefits in research from people using mindfulness-based strategies in their day-to-day lives in addition to mental wellness.

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