Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Session 1: Awareness and Automatic Pilot.
Session 2: Living in our Heads.
Session 3: Gathering the Scattered Mind.
Session 4: Recognising Aversion.
Session 5: Allowing / Letting Be.
Session 6: Thoughts are not Facts.
All-Day Practice together
Session 7: How can I best Take Care of Myself?
Session 8: Maintaining and Extending New Learning.

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a highly successful 2002 derivative from the original programme of the Modern Mindfulness Movement, which is called Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR was created in the early 1980s at the University of Massachusetts Medical School by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It combines many of the aspects of MBSR with a smaller amount of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

MBCT was created by three specialists, Zindel V Segal, J Mark G Williams and John D Teasdale, who were looking for a way to address recurring depression without the use of pharmaceuticals. Some of the basis for MBCT comes from John D Teasdale’s work in the early 1990s, with Philip Barnard, on a multi-layer way of looking at cognitive function called Interactive Cognitive Sub-systems. This hypothesised a Buddhist way of considering that everyone has a number of modes of thinking, the most important of which are “Being” and “Doing”. If one is in the wrong mode, or unaware of what mode one is in, then depression can become overwhelming, so the task was, firstly, to help people know what mode they were in, at any given moment when they stopped to enquire this simple fact about themselves and, secondly, to learn the skill needed to be able to move from one mode to another.

Professor Mark Wiliams, who was then at Bangor University, but went on to lead the University of Oxford’s Mindfulness Centre at Warnefield Hospital before his retirement in 2015, tells a wonderful story about how he, as a clinical psychologist who happened to also be a lay Anglican preacher, was full of uncertainty before their fact-gathering trip to Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn’s facility in Massachusetts. Their journey, though, convinced all of them, and the MBCT programme was born. The enormous advantage that Messrs Segal, Williams and Teasdale had was that research facilities were readily available to them almost instantly, due to their work. Within a very short time, their project, MBCT, was listed as an accredited procedure by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

As has become the norm with this and other more recently created courses, for example our course for Pain and Anxiety (MPC for PoA) the MBCT follows the pattern, created for the MBSR, by consisting of 8 sessions of just over 2 hours (usually over 8 weeks, and never less than 6) plus a 6 hour “All-Day” where everyone in the group has a special day learning a little more about being kind to themselves.

It is important to note that the mindfulness courses that you hear most about – because they have accreditation with the British NHS and many health providers around the world – are all in this “8+All-Day” format. We do not believe that the way to learn mindfulness is via the one or two day courses commonly offered – though short tasters of an hour or so, to enable you to give mindfulness a try so you can see whether an 8+All-Day is for you, are well worth a visit.

Current understanding of this course shows that you are likely to benefit from it:

if you have more stress than you like in your life
if you have a feeling of anxiety about the future often
if you have moods that seem to be overwhelming and unpredictable sometimes
if you have recurring bouts of depression – evidence suggests that the more you have had, the more likely it is that MBCT will stop the depressive bouts
if you have difficulties with getting the sleep you need
if you have been dealing with a long-term difficulty at home or work

It may also be useful for:

people hearing voices
people who are sometimes overwhelmed by feelings of anger against themselves or others

The Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy programme is based on ancient Buddhist practice but is, in no way, religious in content. This course is one of several described as secular, clinical mindfulness and is suitable for people of any religion, or those who choose to have no religion.