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Is Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy Effective?

Mindfulness cognitive therapy (or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, MBCT) is a blend of two very different approaches — cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which focuses on changing our thoughts in order to change our behaviors, and the meditative practice of mindfulness, a process of identifying our thoughts on a moment-to-moment basis while trying not to pass judgment on them. While cognitive behavioral therapy has always emphasized the end result of change of one’s thoughts, mindfulness really looks at how a person thinks — the process of thinking — to help one be more effective in changing negative thoughts.

This is a newer (1979) add-on approach to traditional cognitive behavioral therapy and has recently gained more attention as people look to simplify their lives, and more people learn of the benefits of meditation.

Does any of this work? Well, according to new research, yes.

Coelho et. al. (2007) looked at the research into mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and found only four relevant studies that examined the effectiveness of this approach:

The current evidence from the randomized trials suggests that, for patients with 3 or more previous depressive episodes, MBCT has an additive benefit to usual care. However, because of the nature of the control groups, these findings cannot be attributed to MBCT-specific effects.

The researchers are trying to say, look, we think the research that has looked at MBCT has found some positive results (for those 3 or more depressive episodes — in other words, people with more chronic, treatment resistant type of depression). But none of the research could say it was the MBCT or some non-specific general therapeutic effects often found in psychotherapy treatment studies.

So the answer of its effectiveness remains elusive, but people will continue to pursue MBCT regardless.

Reference:

Coelho, H.F. (2007). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: evaluating current evidence and informing future research. J Consult Clin Psychol., 75(6):1000-5.

Is Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy Effective?

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder & CEO of Psych Central. He is an author, researcher and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues -- as well as the intersection of technology and human behavior -- since 1992. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member and treasurer of the Society for Participatory Medicine. He writes regularly and extensively on mental health concerns, the intersection of technology and psychology, and advocating for greater acceptance of the importance and value of mental health in today's society. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.


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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2008). Is Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy Effective?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/is-mindfulness-based-cognitive-therapy-effective/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 11 Feb 2008
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Feb 2008
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.