Mindfulness-Based Cogntive Therapy (MBCT) combines meditative practices with the principles of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. Inspired by Jon Kabat-Zinns’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, it was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale to help prevent relapse in people with a history of depression. MBCT is traditionally taught as an 8-week group program where participants learn to cultivate a more easeful relationship to distressing moods and thoughts by staying present moment focused. While MBCT was specifically developed for people struggling with depression, mindfulness skills are beneficial for many people and can easily be integrated with other therapy approaches.
An important difference between MBCT and traditional Cognitive Therapy is that rather than trying to change distressing emotions and thoughts, we learn to observe, accept and allow experiences to pass through our body-mind in their own time. Our thoughts, feelings and sensations are all impermanent in nature and they naturally pass through us like waves if we don’t interfere. The waves may be painful, such as a wave of sorrow or jealousy, but the intense suffering we often feel is related to our own resistance to our actual experience. When we say to ourselves “I should be over this” or “I shouldn’t be feeling this way”, we are fighting our felt experience in the moment which then creates more prolonged and more intense suffering. What we resist, persists.
Jon Kabat-Zinn once said “You can’t change the waves, but you can learn how to surf“. MBCT strengthens our witness capacity and we learn skills to respond to our inner experience with wisdom and care. Mindfulness skills and principles, such as learning to develop a curious witness to one’s internal experience and felt sense, are also the foundation for a number of other therapeutic approaches at The Refuge, including Somatic Experiencing and Focusing.
MBCT is both taught individually and in an 8 week group format at The Refuge.