This course has been developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale. Based on the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme developed by Jon Kabat Zinn and including aspects of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the MBCT course was originally designed specifically for people who experience recurrent bouts of depression.
Participants are taught skills to assist them in disengaging from habitual ‘automatic’ unhelpful ways of thinking. The pattern of mind that makes people vulnerable to depressive relapse is rumination, in which the mind repeatedly reruns negative thoughts. One of the core skills that MBCT is teaching is to intentionally become more aware of these thoughts, see them for what they are and not get caught up in them.
The focus is on training to become more aware, of physical sensations and of thoughts and feelings as mental events. This provides a ‘decentred’ relationship to thoughts and feelings in which one can see them as aspects of experience which move through our awareness, rather that a fixed reality.
“The UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently endorsed MBCT as an effective treatment for prevention of relapse. Research has shown that people who have been clinically depressed 3 or more times (sometimes over twenty years or more) find that taking the program and learning these skills helps to reduce considerably their chances that depression will return. The evidence from two randomized clinical trials of MBCT indicates that it reduces rates of relapse by 50% among patients who suffer from recurrent depression.” (Ma and Mindfulness-Based courses are not group therapy, but are more educational in nature.Teasdale, 2004., Teasdale et al 2000).