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An overview of mindfulness based therapies

Mindfulness, though it draws influence from ancient Buddhist tradition, is fast becoming an essential part of a range of non-religious psychological therapies and helping people with a wide variety of physical and emotional concerns.

Mindfulness: The cornerstone of modern psychological therapies

Mindfulness-based therapies involve a focus on immediate experience in a manner characterised by curiosity, openness and acceptance. Rather than rushing to react hastily to our internal world when we cast our gaze upon it, we are instead encouraged to acknowledge and explore without judgement–even if what we discover in this state is difficult or painful.

Mindfulness is not a process of cognition, but rather one of awareness: it encourages us to experience each moment as it comes, rather than becoming tangled in a flurry of thoughts.

The history of mindfulness can be traced back to traditions from the East; particularly in the practice of Buddhist meditation, but mindfulness in itself is not meditation: it is a mental state, and meditation is just one of many ways to cultivate it. Mindfulness has become the cornerstone of many of the modern ‘third wave’ psychological interventions.

Though originally articulated 2,500 years ago as a part of religious practice, there is nothing inherently religious about mindfulness, and its implementation at The House Partnership is independent of any religious or cultural tradition.

Mindfulness: an accepting awareness of the present

It might seem an overwhelming task to to differentiate within the range of mindfulness-based therapies, let alone to chose which might be right for you. At The House Partnership, our therapists are trained in a range of mindfulness-based disciplines, and will help you to chose the combination of those that are most suitable to your needs and concerns:

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

ACT shuns the classic Western psychiatric concept of ‘disorder’ in favour of a view of the normal human mind as tending towards destructive cognitive and emotional processes. In combination with the development of mindfulness skills, the ‘commitment’ part of the therapy supports an outlook on, and reaction to, our experiences based on sound, true-to-ourselves values, to enable a more fulfilled life and work.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

mBCT is particularly useful for people with depression. Mindfulness helps the client to be aware of and identify the automatic cognitive biases that can lead them into a depressive spiral. A combination with cognitive techniques such as ‘restructuring’ can then allow them to correct these processes and embrace more adaptive and realistic ways of viewing themselves, the world and others.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

mBSR focuses on alleviating pain and distress and improving physical and emotional wellbeing for people living with a variety of physical and emotional concerns. Evidence suggests that it is associated with improved immune function, which may be due to its ability to alleviate stress-related immunosuppression.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

DBT is the first psychotherapy to be experimentally proved as generally effective in helping people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – especially those struggling with self harm and suicidal thoughts. It was adapted as a combination of CBT and mindfulness, and tailored specifically to these concerns.

DBT tends to involve both individual and group sessions. In the individual sessions, the client and therapist work together collaboratively according to a treatment hierarchy, with self injurious and suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviours taking top priority. Next are those behaviours which may interfere with the success of therapy, and then the issues which are affecting the client’s quality of life in general. In group sessions, the client works with others to develop specific skills that are crucial to achieving these goals: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation and intelligence, and distress tolerance.

The House Partnership, 6th February 2015

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