MBCT is an integration of MBSR with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It was developed and initially researched through a three site randomised control trial. It was developed to help people suffering from depression. It has been shown to help recovered recurrently depressed participants, through teaching them skills to disengage from habitual ‘automatic’ unhelpful cognitive patterns. The pattern of mind which makes people vulnerable to depressive relapse is rumination, in which the mind repetitively re-runs negative thoughts.
MBCT differs from conventional CBT as it does not place emphasis on changing belief in the content of thought. The focus in MBCT is on a systematic training to be more aware, moment by moment of physical sensations and of thoughts and feelings as mental events. This facilitates a ‘decentred’ relationship to thoughts and feelings from which we can see them as aspects of experience which move through our awareness and which are not necessarily reality in any given moment.
The evidence base on MBCT shows that it can halve the relapse rate in recovered patients with three or more episodes of depression. As a result of this it is now recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) as a preventative treatment for the recurrence of depression.