What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and How is it Different from Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was developed by Dr. Albert Beck in response to his dissatisfaction with psychoanalysis, which was the treatment of choice during his training. Dr. Beck wanted to develop a time-limited treatment with clear, objective goals and outcome measures. As theories do, CBT has evolved from his original conception. The current CBT model is based upon the premise that a specific event triggers (often inaccurate) beliefs or thoughts, which in turn activate specific emotional, behavioral or even physiologic reactions. If we can change our patterns of thinking and behavior, we can improve our emotional and physical well-being. CBT requires active patient participation in sessions and patients complete homework assignments between therapy sessions. It really works quite well for a wide variety of issues.

So, if CBT is so good, why was Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy developed?

Well, like most treatments, CBT is not one size fits all. In fact, there are several CBT-based treatments currently in use to address symptoms that do not respond as well to CBT. I offer Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) because I feel it best suits my patient population, many of whom have chronic, often painful and sometimes terminal medical conditions in addition to mood disorders. MBCT integrates traditional Western methods (CBT) with more Eastern approaches such as meditation, guided imagery, spirituality and tai chi, yoga and Qigong. Many of my patients benefit from incorporating these into their treatment.