Kildare Offaly Counselling

Counselling · Psychotherapy · CBT · Mindfulness · Art Therapy · Compassion


Carbury, Co. Kildare · Tels: 0873977828 / 0862272917

queries@kildareoffalycounselling.com


 

Mindfulness

 

 

"If we hope to go anywhere

or develop ourselves in any way,

we can only step from where we are standing.

If we don't really know where we are standing…

we may only go in circles"

Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

 

If you are not sure if therapy is for you, perhaps participating in an 8-week mindfulness programme might be of interest? This can be done either in a group setting or one-to-one. Antonia is the facilitator and is currently in the last year of a Masters specialising in  Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which was specifically developed for psychological distress and combines mindfulness practice with CBT and the findings cognitive psychology. You might have an idea that to practice mindfulness, you need to sit cross-legged on the floor, or chant, or have certain spiritual or new-age beliefs, or that you have to be a Buddhist or practice Yoga! None of these are true: mindfulness practice is for people of no faith and all faiths. There is no dogma or doctrine attached to it. It is simply a way of paying attention to your experience in an accepting and non-critical way and of learning that it is possible to respond to your experience in a way that is kinder and causes you less suffering. You can practice meditation by sitting very normally on a regular chair, and having your eyes open or closed. In the programme you are invited to experiment, so that you can find what is best for you. Please read on if you want to know a bit more about what mindfulness is, what exactly is MBCT, what it can help with and what would be involved. 

 

What is mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is a particular way of paying attention to both your internal and external experiences. Kabat-Zinn describes this way of paying attention as: "on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally" (Kabat-Zinn). You might wonder (and rightly so) what the point is of paying attention to your internal and external experience, especially if these are extremely unpleasant! And you might also wonder how doing this could possibly help you if you struggle with, say, depression, stress or anxiety. One of the key findings from recent research is that how we react to our internal emotions, thoughts and sensations (especially when they are difficult) is key to our wellbeing. So, in the case of a panic attack for example, there might be an emotion of intense fear, thoughts of an impending heart attack and of wanting these sensations to stop, and physical sensations of heart pounding, difficulty breathing, muscles tensing and chest pain. Typically, the way you might react to this in the moment will be by a) wanting to avoid experiencing this at all cost and needing it to stop straight away, and/or b) having worried thoughts that these sensations mean that you might die, faint, embarrass yourself publicly, etc. This chain of reactions (avoidance, irrational negative thinking) has been proven to be key in the maintenance of the problem. Mindfulness teaches a set of skills and practices that help us be aware of our reactions and choose a more helpful way to respond. Mindfulness requires some discipline on your part, so rather than something or someone outside of you having the power to help you, your facilitator will give you the tools to help yourself and, after the 8-weeks, you are encouraged to continue to use the practices for yourself.

 

 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

In the mental health field, mindfulness interventions are now widely used and clinical research on its effectiveness is showing positive results. In the case of recurring depression, for example, MBCT is proving as effective as medication. One of the first people to include mindfulness into a clinical setting was Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme (MBSR) in 1979 for people with chronic pain. This programme is still run in the University of Massachusetts Medical School and it is now taught all over the world to help people respond to pain, stress and illness in a more effective way. Since then, other therapeutic approaches have included mindfulness training, such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy is an 8-week programme, where you attend a session once a week for 8 weeks. It was originally developed by a group of psychologists (with the assistance of Jon Kabat-Zinn) to treat recurring depression and, in the UK, it is now recommended by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for the treatment of recurring depression. They recommend it as an alternative or in conjunction with medication or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

 

What would be involved if I decide to take the programme?

Initially we would have a meeting (either face-to-face or on the phone), so that I can figure out if the programme would be suitable for you or not, and also so you can ask me any questions you might have. Once you started the programme, you would attend weekly sessions for a period of 8-weeks. If you decided to do this individually, the sessions would be an hour. And if you preferred to do them in a group setting they would be two hours. The groups vary in size but it would be between 8 and 12 participants. The group is not a therapy group, and although there are opportunities during the sessions to share how you are getting on with the practices and to hear how others are getting on, you share only as much as you feel comfortable and if you don't feel able to share, that is also okay. Antonia will guide you through different meditations and exercises every week, and then there would be home practice in between the sessions. After the 8 weeks, you are encouraged to continue with the practices and, in fact, initial research seems to be pointing to the fact that the participants that continue to practice regularly during and after the programme are the ones that benefit the most. 

 

If you have any questions about any of this, or want to know when the next programme is, feel free to get in touch with us either by mail, text of phone call - whatever you feel most comfortable with.