Mindfulness CBT finds its origins in Eastern Buddhist meditation which began many centuries ago. Recent studies on CBT with mindfulness have shown psychological effectiveness across a wide range of psychological and emotional problems. These include anxiety, depression, stress management, OCD, social anxiety and personality disorders.
Mindfulness is a way of observing thoughts, images and feelings in an accepting way without either: –
a) engaging with them, stepping back to interpret them in the traditional way. CBT steps back into an observer hypothesis testing position to reality – test and challenge negative automatic thoughts
b) using distraction techniques to try to suppress and/or escape from them.
How does it work?
When a client comes for CBT their natural disposition is analyse and interpret their negative thoughts. They want to find a solution to problems in their thinking in the same way as they would want a practical solution to the problems faced in every day life, i.e. career, health, financial, external conditions in the world around them.
But thinking problems do not always lead themselves to a mechanistic, pragmatic problem solving exercise. This is generally because these negative thoughts and the emotional pain are initially caused by events which happened long ago, in childhood, or at least have their roots or point of origin there. This makes them less amenable to standard CBT, where negative thoughts can be identified, and reframed in an alternative and more balanced way.
Mindfulness Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
The trend in CBT into the realms of mindfulness, compassion and ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) address the fact that although, like CBT, the interpretation of events and not the events themselves (what Marsha Linehane calls WISE MIND vs Emotional Mind) and rather than wanting to restructure them, that is at the heart of this “third wave” of the behavioural therapies.
Mindfulness CBT – A Third Way
Instead of engaging with negative thoughts, images and emotions, or trying to distance ourselves from them, the third option is to allow them to be there, to accept them (WISE MIND ACCEPTS, Marsha Lineham DBT) but to neglect them.
In Daniel Pink’s book ‘A Whole New Mind‘, he states that, out of 10,000 new bits of information presented to us at any one time, we naturally only pay attention to half a dozen sensory motor mega-bites at any one time.
The mind works by the fact that paradoxically, as we accept these negative images and feelings, and allow them to be there without fixing on them, the mind moves on rather like a stream of consciousness, on to the next thing.
The great Zen master Hisamatsu said “when nothing idle weighs heavy on the mind, this is mans favourite season”.
An example of this natural neglect would be like watching a television commercial. Being an American, in a world of television advertising, I have trained myself to not hear, not see, and not be engaged or affected by what is on the screen.
In Adrian Wells book on Cognition and Emotion, he points to a processing area in the brain where we do just that, experience things around us without being aware of what we are taking in. This is something we already do in vast areas of our lives. Discovering that place where we have thoughts, but they do not have us – i.e where we are not aware or disturbed by them. This is of great value in coping with emotional/psychological problems.
Virtual Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Convenient, private and secure
Online Therapy is available to anyone, anywhere in the world at home or in the office using a tablet, mobile phone or laptop / computer and a good internet connection.
This service would appeal to client's for a variety of reasons.
- Clients location would make it difficult / impossible to access Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy.
- Clients time-pressure, work deadlines, and work-based travel make it difficult to commit for the normal counselling time-scale.
- Clients family commitments make it easier to have treatment on-line at home.
- Clients prefer an initial face to face assessment, and then combine both treatment modalities.