Although research in this area is in its infancy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is generally revealed by a recent overview to be a promising therapy in terms of clinical effectiveness.
In an article called Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: Evaluating Current Evidence and Informing Future Research, published last December in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (PubMed reference here, plus related links), Helen F. Coelho and colleagues looked into all currently available research and found only four relevant studies on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which showed some positive, yet inconclusive, results for people who suffer from chronic, recurrent depression. There were certain benefits, but due to the nature of the control groups, it was hard to attribute them solely to the specific technique of psychotherapy used.
This seems to reiterate the general research conclusions for all kinds of counselling and psychotherapy — that all schools or techniques are equally effective. (Editor’s note: For more on this so-called “dodo bird verdict”, see our review of Hubble, Duncan and Miller.) The effective agent seems to be something in the very fact of going to therapy itself, something about the relationship, the space, or the motivation of the client.
I do believe though, that specific schools have something specific to offer to particular therapists and particular clients, a good fit being the vital element.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, in looking clearly at thought processes and gradually detaching from them, offers a wonderful sense of having something practical to work with, as you edge your way towards freedom and chip away at the glue sticking you to those depressive thoughts, which can become a complete circular system, in fact, a prison.
One key may be the lack of judgment of one’s thoughts. This may be what works on an emotional level, as people with depression often suffer from extreme levels of self-blame.
The liberation in realising that we are not our thoughts is one shared by cognitive therapists and Buddhists alike.
All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .on and was last reviewed or updated by