Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. This program has been rated by the CEBC in the following Topic Areas:

1  — Well-Supported by Research Evidence
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About This Program

Target Population: Adults (between 18-70 years old) who have suffered three or more prior episodes of major depression

Brief Description

MBCT is based on Jon Kabat Zinn’s Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, which was developed to help people suffering with chronic physical pain and disease. It includes simple meditation techniques to help participants become more aware of their experience in the present moment, by tuning in to moment-to-moment changes in the mind and the body. Participants learn the practice of mindfulness meditation through a course of eight weekly classes (the atmosphere is that of a class, rather than a therapy group) and through daily practice of meditation skills while listening to tapes at home. MBCT also includes basic education about depression and suicidality, and a number of exercises derived from cognitive therapy. These exercises demonstrate the links between thinking and feeling and demonstrate ways that participants can care for themselves when they notice their mood changing or a crisis threatens to overwhelm them.

Program Goals:

The overall goals of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are:

  • Target the critical risk mechanism in recurrent depression: patients' tendency to react to small changes in mood with large amounts of negative self-focused rumination
  • Teach patients (in groups and through home-based practice) to notice the tendency to ruminate earlier in its sequence so that more skillful means can be deployed in responding (rather than reacting) to whatever is causing it
  • Teach participants to recognize the mode of mind they are in, so they can, if they choose, change from analytic (over-thinking) mode to a mindful, experiential mode

Contact Information

Mark Williams, MA, MSc, PhD, DSc
Agency/Affiliation: University of Oxford
Department: Department of Psychiatry
Website: www.mbct.co.uk
Phone: +44 1865 876288

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: March 2016

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: April 2016

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: March 2010