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Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Techniques

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Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is psychotherapy comprising cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness activities. Read to know its pros and cons.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vandana Patidar

Published At July 5, 2023
Reviewed AtJuly 11, 2023


There exist various therapies for diminishing depression and related symptoms. Within that, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a talk intervention therapy to give recognition to negative thoughts and associated behavior patterns. In contrast, mindfulness is the practice of bettering oneself. Certain medical researchers thought of inventing CBT with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, the MBSR approach of 1979, to bring about change. Hence, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy came into evolution with a mindful ideology.

What Is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?

As the name reveals, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a psychological intervention that chiefly includes CBT and mindfulness techniques with related strategies. It helps achieve a state of consciousness or knowledge of ourselves and our emotions. As a result, people gain an overall thoughtfulness and sensitivity to the current environment, whether internal or external.

How Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Works?

MBCT relies on cognitive behavioral therapy, whether the talk intervention or teaching on depression and its cons. So, it works by the following mechanisms.

  • Besides, when a person’s depression after time gets revised to distress, this aids an automatic cognitive process inducing a depressive episode. MBCT helps eliminate this automatic theme. In addition, it guides one to have no concern about triggers and helps in accepting them without self-judgment.

  • Depression is all about low mood and related symptoms. Depression, in many instances, develops negative thoughts and beliefs, which is the bitterest part. These views, in turn, take off happiness resulting in fear and exhaustion. By educating a person to see themselves as distinct from their thoughts, MBCT paved the way for abolishing negative memories.

  • The depressive patient feels relief when disconnecting the self from emotions during the intervention. And so, he avoids further enduring thoughts. In contrast, even when one induces such negative thoughts, he would attempt to resolve them by transforming to positive ones.

What Includes in the Mindfulness-Based Intervention?

The mindfulness-based cognitive approach is a group intervention complete with eight sessions for eight succeeding weeks. The weekly session takes two hours to enumerate mindfulness and allows several homework assignments. However, the approach gives many mindfulness-allied works amidst the session. Supplementally, the intervention has a long-span session at the end of the fourth week.


However, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is based upon the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy; MBCT also allies with several mindfulness techniques to make the person more engaged with relaxation.

  • Three-Minute Breathing Space: Daily implementing three-minute breathing exercises with appropriate inhales and exhales.

  • Body Scan Exercise: It is lying down and taking deep breaths. Then, slowly bring attention towards the feet and gradually follow other parts. This will eventually scan the entire body. Hence, exercise is preferred largely for stress relief.

  • Meditation: By breathing and focusing on a particular object or thought, one can meditate with mindfulness. Meditation involves self-organization or guidance, providing attention and awareness of the body and thoughts. Practicing regularly gains sound mental health and an emotionally stable man.

  • Mindful Exercises: Mindfulness practice is a kind of meditation with an emphasis on the present circumstances. Here, the person senses the feeling and other stuff of the environment still without judgment. The practices comprise some exercises in relieving distress that can be employed daily. These include; mindful breathing, concentration, releasing tension, walking meditation, attention to the body, and guided imagery.

  • Mindfulness Stretching: Stretching with proper breathing manners and mindfulness is good mindfulness stretching. Inhaling and exhaling along the stretches elicit relaxation and concentration of muscles, breathing, and emotions.

  • Yoga: Physical, mental, and spiritual practices all come together to unite in yoga. Therefore, it promotes power, stability, and flexibility. MBCT embraces specific yoga poses carrying mindfulness.

Where Can Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Be Applied?

MBCT largely provides awareness of ourselves and our feelings and thoughts rather than turning them. It articulates guidance on paying attention and concentration without any interpretation or judgment. Hence, MBCT is beneficial in the following illnesses and scenarios.

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD).

  • Depression is allied with other mental conditions.

  • Anxiety.

  • Stress.

  • Chronic pain.

  • Bipolar disorder.

  • In combination with antidepressant medication.

  • Treatment-resistant depression.

  • Relapses of depression.

  • Eating disorders.

  • Psychotic conditions.

  • Lack of happiness.

  • As adjunctive therapy provokes welfare in people with cancer, diabetes, and epilepsy.

What Is the Impact of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?

People are conquering their self-allied themes and feelings after the intervention. Most people say they have a good impact on overall mental health, hitting satisfactory well-being wholly from a harmful life. They exhibit more awareness and confidence than those who didn’t take the therapy. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in adjuvant with or without another approach educates how to know and accept the issue instead of relieving it. Also, to do with mental health, the therapy offers an overall ideology of the partition of the true self and true and false beliefs. MBCT can provide relaxation and stress relief.

How Effective Is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?

The mindfulness-based intervention seems to highlight other interventions in one such way, serving not further yield automatic cognition, a trigger of depression. This equates to the effectiveness of MBCT.

  • Medical researchers conducted a meta-analysis in Denmark and proved that MBCT is adequate and suitable against major depressive disorder relapsing.

  • MBCT is as effective as antidepressant sustenance for recurring depression, as per the article published in Lancet.

  • Scientific studies verified that MBCT reduces about 50 percent of the chances of relapse in recurrent depression patients.

  • One study estimated and provided the measure of distress, stress, anxiety, exhaustion, compassion, and soundness is thus improved.

  • Eventually, researchers also stated that MBCT alleviates the carving of certain substance addictions.

With the above conveyed points, the mindfulness-based approach has multiple pros, yet its effectiveness has been proven with pieces of evidence. However, having said that MBCT has a limitation on those effects sustaining for the long-term. However, a supplemental study is required to elaborate on the impact of MBCT on eating disorders and psychotic conditions.


Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a psychological intervention that chiefly includes CBT and mindfulness techniques with related strategies. Any psychotherapy has its unique theme and serves the best and is most effective once engaged wisely and accordingly. MBCT is ideal and responsible for caution or care regarding the accessible challenges and dangers. If one notice our close ones facing depression or have a negative belief about life, it is best to have a doctor consultation as early as possible.

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Dr. Vandana Patidar
Dr. Vandana Patidar



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