Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR)

Three Faces of Mindfulness Therapy


Mindfulness is being attentive to what is happening in each moment, without making any judgments about what is happening. Mindfulness meditation has been practiced for centuries but was not talked about as therapy until the 1970s. That is when Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced, and developed, the concept of reducing stress and managing pain through mindfulness.

Today, Zinn’s work is called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and studies have shown it effective. It is a holistic treatment so does not focus on particular diagnoses. The Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts offers MBSR training to education and mental health professionals. Along with mindfulness, MBSR classes teach participants other effective life skills as well.


In the early 1990s, Marcia Linehan developed DBT, or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. It was developed to treat people with Borderline Personality Disorder and today is also used to treat Bipolar Disorder. One of the symptom management techniques taught in DBT is mindfulness. The use of mindfulness is helpful to people with a history of chaotic emotional reactions and behaviors.


Mindfulness can be used in adjunct with any therapy, but today it is primarily used in conjunction with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This pairing of techniques is called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and has proven helpful to people with chronic, severe depression.

In MBCT clients learn how to step back from habitual depressive thoughts and think more positively. It helps people become aware of their negative thinking habits, or ruminations, which can trigger a relapse of depressive symptoms.

MBCT focuses on the human thought process to make it more effective in life, and conducive to well-being. Because clients learn to become attentive to their thoughts and feelings moment-by-moment, they can see that thoughts and feelings are passing experiences, not facts to be believed. MBCT is now being tried with other chronic disorders such as Bipolar Disorder.

Any licensed mental health professional is qualified to facilitate MBCT although most practitioners specialize in cognitive therapy. Mindfulness has also become a valued part of integrated medical health care practices. Any individual can learn mindfulness to help them maintain good health and a sense of well-being.

photo by John Nyboer


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