A Mindful Test

Mindfulness based treatments work better with practice and therapeutic alliance

(RxWiki News) Can you spot the intricacies differentiating identical twins? Or hear the sounds of the wind whistling between a concert and conversation you’re involved in? If not, mindfulness training can help.

Mindfulness-based treatments blend Buddhist techniques within cognitive therapy to help patients reach a higher level of conscious awareness. Those with lower states of consciousness levels tend to spend more time in circular thought than experiencing the world.

"Consult a therapist about mindfulness-based treatments for increased awareness. "

Though these therapies demonstrate efficacy in treating clinical symptoms and frequently elicit sudden gains for patients, little about specific factors leading to mindfulness progression is known. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology analyzes 93 patients participating in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) course in order to learn more about its healing power.

The study analyzed substance abuse patients with between-session practice after outpatient treatment and assessed the impact of taking mindfulness home and practicing in between sessions. Doctors analyzed patients directly following treatment as well as at 2-months and 4-months post.

Sarah Bowden, Ph.D., who works at the University of California in San Diego’s Center for Mindfulness, co-authored this study. She explains that the “findings suggest that between-session practice and therapeutic alliance might be important factors in the initial increases in mindfulness after mindfulness-based treatments, but factors supporting longer-term mindfulness might shift over time.”

Practice yielded increased awareness at completion, though the effects dissipating moving forward. Mindfulness associated with client-rated therapeutic alliance lasted a few months longer.

dailyRx contributing expert Peter Strong, Ph.D., uses mindfulness-based techniques with patients online.  Dr. Strong tells dailyRx that "the power of mindfulness to heal anxiety, depression and the habitual patters of compulsive behavior is quite remarkable.

"Mindfulness training teaches us a completely different way of relating to our emotions and thoughts and our beliefs that is based on freedom of choice rather than compulsive blind reactivity based on habit. However, mindfulness is a skill which must be developed through continual practice after the training period or mindfulness therapy sessions. You have to make mindfulness a way of life and exercise it at every opportunity if you want to maintain freedom from compulsive emotions and anxiety."

Dr. Strong explains the habitual nature of mindfulness noting that anxiety, depression, and stress become engrained habits which are not easy to kick.  However, Strong's hopeful: "it will take conscious effort to change this powerful conditioning, but it is most certainly possible for the average person, with a little strategic guidance and teaching from an experienced mindfulness therapist or meditation teacher."

Although the subtleties of mindfulness are not yet known, its effects have aided many patients with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other mental health issues. Speak with a health practitioner about mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.  

Review Date: 
December 2, 2011