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    Mindfulness in Mental Health

    By Jonathan Kaplan, Ph.D.

    Today, I'm going to take a little detour from my usual discussions of mindfulness practice in the city, and write a little more clinically.  Today is a Mental Health Blog Day (sponsored by the American Psychological Association), and I wanted to describe briefly the major mindfulness-based psychotherapies that have been developed.  All of these approaches have been subject to scientific research, establishing their helpfulness in treating people with particular kinds of problems.

    Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

    MBSR was designed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn to help people suffering from chronic pain as well as stress-related medical conditions.  The program consists of 8 weeks of group-based sessions in which participants learn how to practice mindfulness through meditation, yoga, and daily activities.

    Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

    Created by Dr. Marsha Linehan, DBT incorporates individual psychotherapy and group-based skills training for people who meet criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder.  Mindfulness is a core component of the program, in addition to distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

    Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

    Based on MBSR, MBCT helps to prevent relapse in people who have experienced three or more episodes of depression.  Because it is a prevention-based program, it is not recommended for people who are currently depressed.  It is curious to note that the program did not prevent relapse in people who experienced 2 or fewer episodes of depression, yet the people who suffered from three or more episodes presumably fell into this former group at an early point in life (i.e., they had a first and second episode before becoming depressed a third time).

    Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

    ACT is a relatively new form of behavioral therapy that emphasizes the pernicious roles of language, thought, and avoidance in causing and perpetuating our distress.  As an example, if I tell myself that I have "low self-esteem," I am likely to avoid challenging social situations, and maybe even enter therapy in order to achieve "high self-esteem."  ACT would encourage me to notice and "defuse" myself from pre-occupation with "self-esteem" and re-engage with life in valued directions.  Some amount of pain and anxiety would be expected, and ACT normalizes these feelings as part of life.

    I hope that you've appreciated this very brief primer on mindfulness-based psychotherapies.  If you're interested in learning more, a simple Internet search will get you all the information you need.  And, if you'd like to learn more about mental health, please visit the APA page:  Your Mind, Your Body

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    Reader Comments (1)

    Peace of mind is always the best place to start, isn't it? It leaves place for better things inside. So people have to let all the cr*p that is bothering them out, otherwise..well, you're the expert!
    Thanks for this very interesting read (and can't believe there are no comments apart from mine)

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