Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Review Essay

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Therefore, the therapeutic technique is not the same as one would expect in a different type of treatment-focused intervention, because its goal is generally to prevent relapse.

However, it is also important to keep in mind that mindfulness is a very popular self-help technique. MBCT is considered a way to help people achieve a greater degree of happiness and success in their lives, even if those people do not actually suffer from a disorder. This is an important concept to keep in mind for the practitioner who may be more comfortable with treating a disease, rather than treating an individual. MBCT can help even those people without a disorder or a diagnosis achieve a greater degree of personal satisfaction in their lives, so that treatment has to focus on improvement in "normal" lives and not just curing or fixing disorders.

Approach to Human Development

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One of the misconceptions about MBCT, and a critique of CBT, behavior therapy, and cognitive therapy is that it ignores the impact of development on the human process. In fact, because of the way that CBT has been used to treat anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, some people believe that it has traditionally targeted the symptoms without examining the life behind the symptoms (Eifert et al., 2005, p.5, para.2). It is true that MCBT focuses on bringing about behavior change. However, it is not true that MBCT leaves no room for examination of underlying motivations and human development. However, the very essence of mindfulness is that it reflects how people have learned to pay attention to their internal thoughts and external surroundings. There is no way to ignore the impact of childhood and development on cognition.

TOPIC: Essay on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Review Assignment

"Child learning occurs as a function of repetition followed by changes or contrast in child experience" (Friman, 2008, p.557, para.4). Therefore, how one thinks is going to be a result of human development. By looking at the underlying cognitions and how they have conditioned people to focus on some elements and ignore others, MBCT does examine the impact of development on the individual.

Approach to Personality

Furthermore, some might suggest that MBCT does not focus on interpersonal relationships, and, as such is fundamentally flawed because interpersonal relationships serve as the foundation for so much that is healthy and functional in life, and also so much that is unhealthy and dysfunctional in life. As a result, it is important to realize that outside relationships will impact the efficacy of MBCT, particularly for those people who are extra-sensitive (Gardner-Nix & Kabat-Zinn, 2009, p.123, para.1). Therefore, the MBCT approach looks at self-perceptions and how those are impacted by mindfulness. Therefore, this therapy requires an examination of how present and past relationships impact thoughts. The goal is not necessarily to alter relationships in a radical way. Instead, "through seemingly subtle shifts in relationship with experience, radical new perspectives emerge" (Crane, 2009, p.65, para.1). Therefore, not only do relationships help change perception, but changes in perception help change relationships.

In addition, one of the focuses on MBCT is often to increase individual assertiveness. This is because many people see a lack of assertiveness as a reason that people have failed to function appropriately in society. Therefore, the default setting suggests that assertiveness is appropriate, and understanding this approach to personality is critical to understanding the role that personality plays in MBCT. "Implicit in the discussion of assertiveness is the suggestion that assertive behavior is the universally preferred behavioral alternative, and that assertive behavior necessarily leads to preferred outcomes" (Duckworth, 2008, p.26, para. 2). Whether or not this assumption is true is debatable, and that actually leads to some of the questions about the efficacy of MBCT as a therapeutic intervention.

Approach to Psychopathology

One of the important elements of MBCT is how it approaches psychopathology, particularly depression. While it does not ignore the disease aspect of depression, MBCT offers a very optimistic approach to the treatment of depression. Moreover, it suggests that the underlying schema of depression can be changed, so that rather than being cyclical, major depression can be turned into a disorder with only a single major episode. To understand this approach, one needs to understand how MBCT practitioners envision depression and the negative cognitions underlying depression. They understand that negative thought patterns occur, not because people want to mire themselves in negativity, but because people think that doing so will actually help them overcome their problems. "Of course, nobody broods over problems because they believe it's a toxic way of thinking. People genuinely believe that if they worry enough over their unhappiness they will eventually find a solution" (Williams et al., 2011, p.30, para. 3). By showing people that worrying does not lead to a solution, the concept is that the underlying psychopathology can be changed.

Presumed Mode of Therapeutic Action

MBCT exists in multiple modes and can even be handled in a self-help approach outside of a therapeutic setting. However, in an academic setting, MBCT is generally going to refer to a narrowly defined eight-week program that is a group intervention. The intervention is a class program. There are 8 weekly classes, which generally meet for 2 hours. Some weeks feature longer sessions. However, most of the work is done outside of the classroom setting. Participants use class materials to engage in guided meditations. The themes of the classes are: automatic pilot; dealing with barriers; mindfulness of the breath; staying present; allowing and letting be; thoughts are not facts; how can I best take care of myself; and using what's been learned to deal with future moods (MBCT.com, 2007, para.3). In addition, while MBCT may be based upon an eight-week program, it is important to realize the MBCT is not a closed-end process in many scenarios. "Having a support network is crucial to continuing along the path of practice and recovery" (Bowen et al., 2011, p.159, para.1).

Goals for Treatments

The basic overall goal of MBCT is to help change cognitions by increasing mindfulness. However, most people who seek out MBCT do so to treat a specific problem, generally depression, though it can also be useful for addiction. There are eight smaller goals of the treatment, which, when combined with one another, are thought to prevent relapse. The first goal is to help the individual become familiar with the workings of his own mind (MBCT.com, 2007, para.4). The second goal is to help the individual recognize high-risk times (MBCT.com, 2007, para. 4). The third goal is to help the individual find ways to release old habits (MBCT.com, 2007, para.4). The fourth goal is to introduce the individual to a different way of viewing self and the world (MBCT.com, 2007, para. 4). The fifth goal is to introduce the individual to a more appreciative posture, so that they can enjoy the externalities of the world (MBCT.com, 2007, para.4). The sixth goal is to encourage the person to be kind to himself (MBCT.com, 2007, para.4). The seventh goal is to reduce inner conflict (MBCT.com, 2007, para.4). The final goal is to increase individual levels of self-acceptance (MBCT.com, 2007, para.4).

Another way to view the overall treatment goal is to say that it will help the individual change his approach to tasks. Frequently, major depression is marked by fear and the unwillingness to engage in new behaviors because they seem overwhelming to the individual. MBCT encourages the individual to look at things differently, so that these perceptions change. One way to do so is by engaging in a task analysis. "A task analysis breaks a complex activity into its component parts or units so that they can be individually shaped if they are not already in the subject's repertoire, or brought under appropriate stimulus control within the chain if they are present already" (Williams & Burkholder, 2008, p.47, para.3).

Strengths and Limitations of the Orientation

MBCT has a number of strengths suggesting it may be effective for treating disorders. First, it is a relatively simple philosophy. At eight weeks, the program requires relatively little commitment, at least in terms of time. Furthermore, though it is a group intervention, because the individual drives the process through class participation and homework, the individual is largely responsible for the success of the program, which is both a strength and a limitation. However, the greatest strength of the orientation may be that it has appeal for people who have been punishing themselves because of depression or addiction issues. The MBCT practitioner does not suggest that those seeking treatment are responsible for the condition that has led them to seek treatment, and actually encourages participants to view themselves in a positive manner, regardless of externalities. In other words, they express support for the idea of unconditional positive regard for the patient. "Symptoms are thought to be maintained via cognitive and behavioral pathways, not by laziness, lack of motivation, or weakness" (Ledley et al., 2010, p.4, para.3).

While MBCT has a number of strengths, it is such a specific program that some researchers have expressed real… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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