I hope you find this article useful if you're looking for another 'tool' for your 'toolbox'. Wish I had the time to add more suggestions on how to integrate both modalities but I’m sure this will give you a head start!
First, what is MBCT?
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a combination of ancient wisdom and meditation practices, combined with 21st century science. MBCT was designed specifically to help people who suffer repeated bouts of depression to help prevent the depression from coming back. It teaches people to pay attention to the present moment, rather than worrying about the past or the future, and to let go of the negative thoughts that can tip them over into depression. It also gives people a greater awareness of their own body, helping them to identify the signs of oncoming depression and ward off the episode before it starts. Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale and based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme.
Through clinical trials and studies, MBCT has proven to be a powerful tool among therapists and is recognised by NICE in the UK. Seventy five percent (75%) of doctors in the UK would recommend MBCT for mental health problems.
Supporters of mindfulness would have us believe that virtually every client and therapist would benefit from being more mindful.
Among the many benefits posited are self-control, objectivity, affect tolerance, enhanced flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and one's self with kindness, acceptance and compassion. Others disagree so all I can say is, it works for me and it has lead to a more ‘insightful practice’ but why not try it out for yourself and see!
What is EFT?
In a nutshell, Emotional Freedom Technique (or EFT) is a non-invasive, easy to learn tapping therapy which can be self-applied. Although not yet accepted as an evidence based therapy, recent clinical trials have indicated that EFT may be effective for trauma, cravings, phobias and stress. It is also used by medical professionals and in clinical practices, where EFT has also been used to alleviate pain and the side effects of cancer treatment.
If you’re interested in any research articles that accompany some of this article, please visit this webpage. Contributions welcome! http://www.eftandmindfulness.com/mindfulness-research-papers-and-articles.html
If you’re interested in training to qualify as an accredited MBCT Practitioner, please take a look at our website www.eftandmindfulness.com for information and a contact form. You can even learn from the comfort of your own home as we can come to you!
Benefits for the Client: Therapists who integrate mindfulness practices into their work are able to show clients how to step away from their thoughts and feelings and give up ineffective experiential avoidance strategies. They are naturally able to teach their clients how to relax and become focused on feelings and be observant of thoughts.
Below are just some of the ‘how to’ skillsets a mindful therapist can teach their client:
Client’s with depression can benefit from mindfulness activities as regular practice has been shown to decrease the executive control network (the part of the brain responsible for focusing on negative emotions). Clients can be encouraged to access their feelings and notice their thoughts about them. When sadness shows up they are asked to stay present with them and to explore the emotion rather than worry about it, distract themselves, try to make it go away, or deal with it in some other habitual, unhealthy way.
They can be taught to just sit and focus on one foot then the other. To compare one foot to the other. Do they favour one over the other? Are any sensations noticed in either foot? Would it be possible to just observe what is happening or not happening with each foot?
This practice promotes focusing and observing. A skill that strengthens the insula and helps to regulate emotional regulation and regulate homeostasis.
[MBCT has shown to be beneficial for clients who have had 3 or more episodes of depression but research studies are still ongoing in this area.]
Benefits for the therapist: . There are many benefits for therapists who use mindfulness on a regular basis. Personally, I have seen a big shift in my approach and dialogue with clients and noticed other benefits too. For example:
For psychotherapists: Empirical literature demonstrates that including mindfulness interventions in psychotherapy training may help therapists develop skills that make them more effective. In a four-year qualitative study, for example, counselling students who took a 15-week course that included mindfulness meditation reported that mindfulness practice enabled them to be more attentive to the therapy process, more comfortable with silence, and more attuned with themselves and clients (Newsome, Christopher, Dahlen, & Christopher, 2006; Schure, Christopher, & Christopher, 2008). Counselors in training who have participated in similar mindfulness-based interventions have reported significant increases in self-awareness, insights about their professional identity (Birnbaum, 2008) and overall wellness (Rybak & Russell-Chapin, 1998).
EXAMPLES OF HOW TO INTEGRATE MINDFULNESS INTO THE EFT SESSION:
Does your client have a tendency to automatically react to situations? Is it possible to teach your client to choose how to respond instead?
"Even though I am quick to judge others or react with anger, what if I could choose a healthier response instead?" Help your client develop a new response with the help of mindfulness meditation.
With mindfulness practice, you could also help your client to accept certain situations that are beyond their control, rather than trying to fight with them. "Even though I'm angry and frustrated because of (xxx) I wonder what it would feel like if I could just accept what has happened, knowing I cannot change anything?"
Trading off secondary gains:
Ask: ‘In what way does this problem (anger) affect your life?’
You could suggest a ‘trade off’. Asking ‘what would you trade not to have this problem? This might be trading the anger for inner peace.
Eliminating ruminating thoughts:
Clients with anxiety issues are often in the future and with these client you could ask them… ‘where are you now when you say that? Past present or future?’
When they say future, you can say…’what does it feel like to be in the future?’ They then usually say ‘not nice’ so suggest when they go into the future to remind themselves they are in the present.
Suggestion: As you have that (critical) thought, is it possible you could be non-judgemental towards it?
Set up 1 that cuts out the ‘even though’ …When I have this bad thought I feel XXXX but I accept this without judgement
Set up 2 “Even though I have these thoughts……I choose to imagine them on the bus/cloud/stream etc….” “Even though I have these thoughts, I understand thoughts are not real and are coming from the mind”
Helping your client regulate their emotions:
Ask what emotions, feelings, urges, impulses, or sensations (associated with this issue) do they fight with, avoid, suppress, try to get rid of, or otherwise struggle with?
Ask as they feel that emotion, if it’s possible to stay with what is happening in their body right now? Ask: Can you do that?
If Yes then congratulate client with “that’s good” or “well done” and add maybe “ If it becomes too difficult, just let me now. Watch body language.
After a short while, gently ask the client how it is feeling now within their body and if they can slowly scan their body and notice any changes right now.
If client says ‘No’ then bring client back and tap on the emotion that comes with the thought of staying with the feeling/sensation/urge etc)
Move on to asking “What can you tell me about this feeling right now? Does it have a history or a memory that goes with it? “
Helping your client be in the present moment:
When asking clients to ‘tune into’ a problem, what better time to suggest to the client to ‘be with that just as it is without judgement but with curiosity’. These can also be integrated into the set up statements. ET I have XXXX I accept this emotion etc without judgement. Rest of points…this emotion/problem.
Encourging your client to be focused:
Some client have a tendency to switch from one subject or experience to another. There are many reasons for this but it might be when they don't want to pay attention to the memory and can be difficult to keep them on track. When you notice this, gently remind your client to bring the thought etc back into focus and ask if it's possible to stay with that thought, even if a little unpleasant. Remind them they are in the present. Suggested set up "Even though I find this thought unpleasant in my (part of the body) I choose to pay attention to what message might be with it." If the feeling with the thought is too unpleasant, another way could be to ask if your client if they could 'step away' from that feeling and observe from a distance.
Questions you might like to consider
“…therapists’ techniques are far less important than the quality of the therapeutic relationship that they develop… therapists heal through a process of genuine dialogue with their clients. The kind of person a therapist is, or the ways of being that he or she models, is the most critical factor affecting the client and promoting change.”