Mindfulness and Psychotherapy
Life involves many challenges and painful experiences that sometimes leave people ruminating about the past, worried about the future, or feeling stuck in unsatisfying relationships and work. The purpose of therapy is to transform your experience of suffering in order to live in a way that is connected to your values and goals. Mindfulness therapies involve a specific focus on building mindfulness skills that can help you clarify what is important and gain a new perspective on your emotional distress that offers relief from suffering.
The mindfulness therapies offered at Toronto Psychology Centre include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). These are all evidence-based treatments that incorporate mindfulness skills training as an essential component of the therapy to facilitate change and promote fuller engagement with life.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of relating to your experience. It involves bringing active awareness and attentiveness to the current moment with a nonjudgmental perspective.
So often it is the case that we’re physically present but the focus of our awareness is elsewhere. We can all relate to the experience of feeling disconnected or caught up in our thoughts, worries, or judgments. When this happens, we tend to miss out on what’s happening right in front of us: connections with others, engagement with the world, opportunities to learn. Mindfulness practice helps build skill in allowing ourselves to notice and observe our experience of the world around us as well as our thoughts and feelings from a healthy distance, without judgement or automatic reactions that can result in anxiety and fear. This means observing and paying attention to what you experience, as well as how you feel, react to, or engage with an experience.
Mindfulness changes our we experience life
Practising mindfulness requires an active adjustment to the way we interact and engage with life. It is a way of approaching and tuning into the present that helps us to see and accept how things actually are, rather than how we think they should be, as well as helping us to step back from our experience so that we don’t get so entangled and stuck in our thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations. Through intentionally attending to our experience in an open and observing way, we develop the capacity to shift our relationship to our experience such that we are able to see it with greater clarity and objectivity. Mindfulness also helps us to recognize that we have choice in how we engage and with what aspects of experience we choose to engage in life.
What are the benefits of Mindfulness practice?
Mindfulness practice in psychotherapy has gained increasing acceptance as an empirically supported approach in light of the evidence that it contributes to wellness, particularly with chronic pain, chronic depression and relapse prevention, and among different anxiety disorders.
Benefits associated with mindfulness include heightened engagement in life, increased focus and cognitive flexibility, reduced rumination and emotional reactivity, improvement in relationship skills and satisfaction, enhancement of insight, intuition and morality, as well as numerous physical health benefits, including increased immune functioning. Mindfulness also contributes positively to our mental health and can help reduce stress, anxiety, fear, and negative emotions that often accompany our perceptions of events, thoughts and feelings.