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Hybrid Cognitive Therapies: Mindfulness and Cognitive Therapy

Jamie Marich, Ph.D., LPCC-S, LICDC-CS, RMT, edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D.

There are several therapies garnering attention as the "next-gen" of cognitive behavioral therapies. These are hybrids that blend traditional cognitive therapy with mindfulness. Mindfulness is derived from an ancient meditative practice. Mindfulness teaches people to live in a state of acceptance with a keen awareness of the present moment. A mindfulness approach recognizes that thoughts are just that- merely thoughts. They don't represent any truth or reality. As such, thoughts can be neither good nor bad.

be mindful wooden blocksSAMHSA considers mindfulness-informed interventions to be emerging practices that can serve as a helpful addition to PTSD treatment. Research in the area of mindfulness-informed interventions continues to grow. Popular modalities in this area include dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), on the SAMHSA registry for those with borderline personality disorder and borderline spectrum behaviors, often conceptualized as a complex manifestation of unhealed trauma. Others include acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy (MBCBT), and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). All of these modalities blend traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches together with coping skills and distress tolerance techniques from Eastern philosophy. Mindfulness meditation strategies are a big component in all of these therapies. Their founders discovered that cognitive-behavioral interventions alone were not enough to help people deal with intense emotions, so these mindfulness-informed techniques were brought in to supplement. Although each of these therapies have their own variations, they are collectively considered to be part of the "new wave" of cognitive therapy.

Each of these therapies appear on the SAMHSA registry for general mental health outcomes. Many providers throughout the country are successfully implementing these programs as part of a comprehensive PTSD treatment regimen, especially at the stabilization level. MBSR has specifically grown in popularity for those in need of general stress management who may not meet the clinical criteria for a formal trauma or stressor-related disorder. You are encouraged to visit the websites listed in the Resource Section if these approaches pique your interest. If you are interested in the research about the benefits of mindfulness as a general healthcare strategy, we also list some websites that you can visit.