Mindfulness is about non-judgemental awareness in the here-and-now of one’s actual sensory experience + thoughts, feelings, reactions, behaviour and functioning. It is about noticing what is happening in each moment, to fully experience one’s life as it happens, rather than being lost in thoughts, conceptualisations, opinions and judgements about one’s experience.
When mindfulness is employed in counselling and psychotherapy, as a therapeutic approach, this is referred to as mindfulness-based therapy. In mindfulness-based therapy the client develops increased awareness and understanding of themselves through being fully in touch with all aspects of their lived experience, rather than through “second-hand”, intellectual speculation.
Mindfulness-based therapy approaches
While the term ‘mindfulness’ may not have been explicitly used in the theoretical models for approaches like Gestalt therapy, Mindful Breathing Therapy and various other therapy approaches, the actual practice of mindfulness has always been a central aspect of such modalities.
In the last couple of decades, however, several explicitly mindfulness-based therapy approaches have emerged, like Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). A vast range of other mindfulness-based therapy programs have also been devised, with a great variety of applications, including a drug-free treatment for insomnia and common sleep disorders – Relax-the-Mind Sleep Therapy.
Research on mindfulness-based approaches is increasing rapidly, and is finding more and more evidence that mindfulness-based therapy can help alleviate a variety of mental health problems and improve psychological functioning.
The role of mindfulness in the development of therapists’ skills for empathy and therapeutic alliance is also finding increasing support, as indicated e.g. by a recent pilot study of the application of mindfulness in the context of clinical supervision; Dialogical Mindfulness in Supervision Role-play.
To read more about the role of mindfulness in psychotherapy, please visit this page: Mindfulness in therapy
You may also be interested to read more about Mindfulness meditation…