What is Mindfulness Beyond Therapy?
Mindfulness Beyond Therapy (MBT) is an umbrella term that uses two of the most effective and powerful treatment approaches available today -- Mindfulness and REBT/CBT. It is the best from East and West. The roots of Mindfulness are over 2,500 years old and can be traced back to India, China, and Japan. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are supported by over 40 years of rigorous research. These modalities and techniques share a common focus on:
- thoughts and emotions that sustain harmful unconscious thought patterns and behaviors;
- the modeling of new behaviors, changing how we relate to, and disputing our internal and external experiences (e.g., reducing judgment, demands, changing preferences) to maximize happiness;
- between-session practice of skills.
Mindfulness Based CBT is goal-oriented and tends to be short-term, although treatment duration is dependent on many factors such as severity of symptoms and impairment and consistency of between-session practice.
The behavior therapies described below are supported by the most current research available for the treatment of anxiety, depressive, anger, guilt and related symptoms. They are utilized in a harmonious manner that is most consistent with each individual's treatment needs.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
The most effective approach for overcoming any fear is to face it. Exposure therapy involves directly and gradually facing the uncomfortable situations and/or thoughts that trigger distress and avoidance. This leads to habituation, or getting used to that situation or thought.
Response prevention focuses on resisting urges to engage in compulsions and other behaviors that generate a false sense of safety, such as reassurance-seeking.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
A model of behavioral therapy that concentrates on increasing willingness to experience emotional pain because it is avoidance of this pain that creates suffering and other long-term negative consequences. We shift focus from trying to avoid our emotional pain to living a fulfilling and meaningful life, clarifying what matters to you, and on actively increasing valued behaviors.
Mindfulness is conscious awareness and attention of the present moment in a non-reactive, non-judgmental way. Much of the time, we function on “automatic pilot” or are engaged in unconscious, habitual attempts to escape unpleasant feelings. When we practice purposefully attending to or staying with the experience of the moment, (such as thoughts, emotions, sounds, or taste) we are better able to acknowledge and accept what is, thus allowing us to consciously respond instead of react. Mindfulness teaches us to be more willing to feel what is painful and therefore, allows us greater openness to and experience of joy.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
A technique used to build awareness of reasons for ambivalence and overcome barriers to change. It is common for people struggling with anxiety and depression to be ambivalent about seeking treatment and changing long-held behaviors. Therefore, brief preliminary interventions such as motivational interviewing can be very useful to increase readiness for change (Westra and Dozois, 2006). This technique is used to (1) build awareness of reasons for why it’s so difficult to change and (2) problem solve barriers to change. It is often expected that people may actually feel worse as they begin to approach instead of avoid the things that make them anxious. However, this is temporary and the long term benefit of this approach has been shown.
A treatment shown to be effective in treating depression that emphasizes engaging in life activities that are or were once positively reinforcing, especially activities that are currently avoided for reasons of mood or isolation. Avoidance of these activities may be easier in the short run, but hurtful in the long run. We often start with the easiest of activities or those that are likely to bring the greatest sense of accomplishment and/or pleasure. We look to intervene on behaviors and environmental factors are may be maintaining or worsening depressive symptoms.
Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP)
Focuses on in-session behaviors and on the therapeutic relationship to facilitate behavior change. Therapist and client determine together any problem behaviors that show up in the client’s relationships outside of therapy and how those behaviors might show up in the relationship with the therapist. We use this understanding to teach new behaviors in the moment as they occur. People are more likely to generalize behavior that is practiced and learned in the moment than when past and future events are only talked about. This present moment focus and focus on the therapeutic relationship can strengthen the effectiveness of any other modality also being utilized.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
This type of therapy focuses on learning skills to increase emotional regulation, distress tolerance, increase frustration threshold, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness. It is particularly useful for individuals who experience negative emotions that are excessively prolonged, frequent, intense, and unpredictable. Although we do not offer a full DBT treatment program, we do utilize many of the strategies within individual therapy.
Maintaining good Health Behaviors is an essential part of any treatment program as research has unequivocally supported the vital role of adequate sleep, regular exercise, and a balanced diet in overall well-being as well as in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.