MBCT Therapy in London and Online

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a relatively new type of psychotherapy that combines mindfulness with aspects of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The practice of mindfulness focuses on developing the skill of being aware of the present moment, which allows you to move away from being distracted with worries about your future or regrets regarding your past. The cognitive aspect of MBCT aims to identify and change unhelpful thinking patterns and thus improve our behavioural and emotional responses. These two elements, when integrated, help clients prevent a downward depressive spiral, recognise their unhelpful beliefs and improve their emotional responses. Throughout the duration of MBCT, clients are also equipped with tools and techniques that allow them to be more in touch with themselves, cultivate self-acceptance and make beneficial choices in life. MBCT has been recognised by the UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment for recurrent bouts of depression. Additionally, this form of therapy can be helpful in reducing anxiety issues. In this article, you can find out what MBCT is, how it works, what to expect in the sessions and more.

If you’re interested in starting MBCT Therapy, request a free 15 min consultation today.

What is MBCT Therapy?

MBCT is a third-wave therapy that utilises both the practice and principles of mindfulness as well as elements of cognitive therapy which helps people become aware of their thoughts, feelings and sensations in the present moment. Such awareness serves a catalyst fostering reflection and critical thinking, which allows for choice of action, eventually leading to different and more helpful outcomes. Integrating the two approaches facilitates:

  • Recognising those stimuli that might trigger negative moods, stress and anxiety,
  • Improving how we react and respond to such situations. Through the use of mindfulness techniques, therapeutic work focuses here on deepening the connection with the self in a non-judgmental manner, resulting in effective reduction of stress and negative mood cycles.

CBT vs MBCT

CBT and MBCT both aim to help people break off, contain or reduce negative thinking patterns by becoming more aware of their beliefs and reactions as well as understanding that what they think is not a fact and, thus, can be altered. However, the two types of psychotherapy significantly differ in how they achieve this goal. In short, while CBT stresses the importance of observing, analysing and changing the unhelpful thinking patterns by breaking down the client’s thoughts, MBCT chooses to focus and utilise the conscious experience throughout the healing process.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) emphasises the role of cognition (thinking) in identifying and reframing the negative thoughts, which are perceived as dysfunction that need to be challenged in order to achieve mental wellbeing. The therapeutic process focuses on labelling, charting and analysing the client’s reactions to triggers, finding new and more helpful ways to interpret stressful or uncomfortable situations. CBT achieves that by challenging, disproving or decreasing the intensity of the unhelpful beliefs one might hold regarding themselves and others or their life in general, and promote more helpful behavioral patterns. In between sessions, clients are often asked to do homework which helps them increase their ability to notice the dysfunctional thinking patterns.

MBCT, on the other hand, doesn’t try to get rid of the negativity in our lives. It’s focused on developing the ability to sit with the discomfort in the present moment and accept it. Rather than trying to avoid, deny or push away the difficult thoughts, emotions or sensations, MBCT encourages clients to open up, notice and release them in a non-judgmental way. It treats unhelpful thoughts as just that – thoughts, not facts. MBCT invites clients to observe the content of their thoughts with no attachment to them and breathe through the process. Throughout the course of our lives, we will face obstacles and go through difficult times. It’s unavoidable. That’s why the skill of coping with such challenges in a healthy, balanced, mindful and non-judgemental way can be incredibly advantageous. Cultivating such a posture is the key to non-attachment.

Who needs MBCT Therapy

Research shows that MBCT is effective in helping people who struggle with:

What Can MBCT Therapy Help With

MBCT brings an understanding of what depression is and how negative mood spirals work. It allows you to identify your triggering, unhelpful thinking patterns and point you towards the actions you can take to prevent or reduce their impact on your wellbeing. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a great tool to reduce stress levels and take charge of your emotional states.

Additionally, MBCT helps people:

  • Positively change their responses and reactions to the outside world
  • Find or reconnect with the things that make their lives worth living
  • Cultivate self-acceptance in the face of adversity, suffering or discomfort
  • Build up their psychological resilience
  • Build up their confidence

Techniques and Exercises in MBCT

The therapeutic work in MBCT includes both cognitive and mindfulness-based techniques. In general, though, an emphasis is put on utilising your own body in interventions such as breathing exercises, body scans, meditations and mindful stretching.

3-minute breathing space

This quick exercise can be practised daily.

  • In the first minute, concentrate your thoughts on checking in with yourself. Breathe in and out and focus on observing your thoughts, bodily sensations or arising emotions. Try finding words that can describe or name this experience. Ask yourself: “How am I feeling at this moment?”
  • During the second minute, direct your attention to your breath. Notice how the sensation of inhaling differs from exhaling. Feel your chest rise and fall. Don’t try to change the way you breathe – observe it just as it is.
  • Dedicate the last minute of this practice to broadening your attention from your breath to the bodily sensations and your whole body. See how the two are intertwined, how your breath affects your body and vice versa.

Body scan

This exercise fosters a deep state of mindful relaxation by scanning your entire body, one area after another, from toes to head. The process is usually done lying on your back, guided by a professional who directs your attention to:

  • Your breath (its rhythm, warmth, length, flaring nostrils etc.)
  • Your body (e.g. its temperature, the texture of your clothes against your skin)
  • Your specific body part (feelings of comfort or pain, tension or relaxation, hypersensitivity or numbness)

Daily mindfulness

Clients are also encouraged to bring a mindful posture into their daily routines. While you might think you’re too busy to find time for meditating, many pockets of time are waiting for you to harness their potential. Seemingly mundane activities such as folding laundry, washing the dishes or being stuck in a traffic jam are a perfect opportunity to connect with the present moment. Next time you’re eating, showering or standing in line, rather than multitasking, choose to direct your complete focus to the experience itself, temperature, texture, flavour or scent of it. The secret to integrating mindfulness into daily life lies in simplicity.

These are just some of the most common techniques utilised in MBCT. There’s an abundance of other interesting exercises usually incorporated throughout the course of therapy. Another fundamental aspect of therapy will be the therapeutic relationship.

What will happen during your sessions, including techniques and exercises used will heavily depend on the specific nature of your issues and your unique needs and circumstances. Your MBCT therapist will take all this into account and, harnessing the therapeutic relationship, will tailor the approach to you and your specific goals.

How long does MBCT Therapy last

Though traditionally taking place in a group setting, with a 8-week programme, MBCT therapy is also practised with individual clients in a one to one setting.

The same principles and many of the contents of the 8-week group program are also  applied in the individual setting. At Therapy Central, we offer individual MBCT therapy that is provided by trained practitioners with significant experience.

When working with MBCT on a one to one basis, there’s a particular focus on the individual’s specific needs and circumstances. Although 8 sessions may be enough to see good improvements, when the frequency or intensity of a client’s symptoms is quite high, the duration of therapy is likely to be longer.

How does MBCT Therapy work?

MBCT provides clients with tools to find inner balance and stability in the present moment, especially when they might feel prone to having a depressive episode or when they’re struggling with anxiety. Through the use of cognitive techniques, therapists help clients understand what depression is precisely and how it works. Clients learn to:

  • Notice their negative thoughts and beliefs such as self-imposed pressure, unrealistic expectations or self-judgement.
  • Become aware of what triggers make them prone to experiencing low moods, downward spirals, and staying in such states for a long time

Mindfulness-based techniques used in the treatment allow clients to redirect their focus to witnessing the here and now rather than worry about their future or ruminate on their past mistakes. Therapeutic work emphasises:

  • How to develop the skill of being aware of their thoughts, feelings and sensations in the present moment without getting attached to them or trying to change them
  • How cultivating a posture of curiosity and self-acceptance is key to exploring ways that lead to a healthy, balanced style of coping with difficult emotions.

What to expect in MBCT Therapy?

MBCT doesn’t try to force a change in the content of your negative thoughts. Instead, it focuses on helping you see how your thoughts are not equivalent to facts. It then helps by altering the way you might address external situations and how you decide to react to the thoughts, emotions, or sensations arising in the present moment. You can expect to:

  • Face your discomfort, painful beliefs or negative moods,
  • Learn how to let them go by recognising how hurtful holding onto negativity is,
  • Replace self-judgement with self-acceptance,
  • Learn how to direct your focus from reacting to responding,
  • Make better-informed choices that will improve your behaviour,
  • Spend a lot of time practising mindfulness (in and out of sessions).

What is an MBCT session like?

MBCT Therapy is practical and hands-on. Aside from talking with a therapist, it mainly focuses on the experiential component of the healing process. Each MBCT session consists of doing mindfulness-based exercises such as guided meditation, body scanning or mindful stretching that connect you to your body or show where you might hold tension. These techniques help you train your attention to stay grounded in the present moment, with no attachment to the thoughts or feelings that might pop up in your mind or body. Additionally, clients are assigned homework to complete outside of sessions daily, which usually consists of mindfulness-based practice time, such as meditating, experimenting with new behaviours, journaling etc.

What are the benefits of MBCT

While MBCT is effective in treating depressive symptoms, it also brings a myriad of other benefits to  our wellbeing, such as:

  • Stress and anxiety reduction [4]
  • Improving emotional regulation [5]
  • Noticing and disengaging from unhelpful thoughts or behaviours
  • Paying closer attention to one’s purpose and meaning in life
  • Increasing and maintaining positive emotional states [6]
  • Seeing beauty and positivity in simple things
  • Being free from negativity or self-judgement
  • Greater assertiveness
  • Higher quality of life

If you’d like to embark on the journey toward a meaningful, balanced life and are considering starting MBCT Therapy, we invite you to get in touch with one of our licensed therapists.

Click here to request a free 15-minute consultation.

Dr. Raffaello Antonino

Clinical Director, Counselling Psychologist

Dr. Alana Whitlock

Clinical Psychologist

Ben Dustin

Psychotherapist

Dr Nicholas Sarantakis

Counselling Psychologist

Anita Sommers

Psychotherapist

Joanne Videtzky

Clinical Psychologist

Imogen Healy

Integrative Counsellor

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Testimonials

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Therapist l had was absolutely brilliant with me. He had patience with me and bit by bit l gained a little of confidence to try and get out and go on the buses.

He deserves an award and if l could l would in the beginning l thought how is this person going to get me back on public transport but he did he gave me the confidence l lost and now have back.

I will never forget him and what he has done for me. I wish him nothing but the best in his life.

(Patricia)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My therapist was excellent. I highly recommend her and I am truly thankful for my sessions, I left feeling confident and positive.

The mental tools, systems and approaches I have been able to develop with her and use in my life have been hugely beneficial.

Thank you to all at Therapy Central.

(John)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Therapist really gave me the space to talk and express my feelings and fears in a very comforting environment.

She was there not only to listen, but challenge my thinking, guide me during the uncertainty I was experiencing and give me useful and practical tips to improve my mental health and wellbeing. Highly recommended!

(George)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Working with the therapist has been a life-changing experience. Each session has been invaluable, helping me gain a good understanding of CBT methodology enabling me to incorporate ways to combat stress and anxiety in my daily life.

The Therapist shows that she really cares and has the ability to make you feel calm whilst discussing any personal issue. 

(Richard)

Fees & Insurances

Therapy, Counselling and CBT sessions are 50 minutes long and are usually held at regular weekly time slots.

Free
15 Minute Initial
Phone Consultation

£80 - £125
Psychological Therapy/
Counselling (Self-funded)

£115 - £150
Couples Therapy/
Family Therapy

Covered by
Your Private Healthcare Insurance Provider

Our therapists are registered with several insurance providers, such as AXAPPP, Simplyhealth, Bupa, Aviva, Cigna (UK/US), and WPA. If you wish to use your personal or employee private healthcare insurance to cover your sessions, please highlight this in your contact form below.

MBCT Therapy in London and Online

If you feel like you’re stuck in a vicious cycle of unhelpful behaviour or struggling to manage your emotions, MBCT therapy might be a good fit for you. It can help you introduce balance in your life by understanding yourself better, accepting things that are out of your control and introducing positive and meaningful changes leading to a higher quality of life.

Our therapists work integratively and utilise a variety of different techqniues and approaches in their practice, picking those that will meet your specific needs and unique circumstances best. They can assist you in achieving your goals and creating a life you will be excited to live to the fullest.

Get professional MBCT therapy in London and online today and contact us for a free 15-minute consultation.

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    FAQ

    What happens after I make an enquiry?

    After receiving your enquiry, we’ll contact you to organise a FREE phone consultation. You will tell us more about your specific circumstances and needs and ask any questions you have. Then, if you want to proceed with therapy or counselling, we’ll match you with the therapist(s) with the best expertise to help you with your challenges and send you a list of their available appointment slots. If you’re satisfied with one of these, we can then go ahead and book your first appointment. You can also request to work with a specific practitioner, and, depending on availability, we’ll try to accommodate this.

    What happens at my first appointment with the therapist?

    Your first session will likely be different from future appointments. You and your therapist will get to know each other and will begin to build a working alliance. It will be a chance to have the confidential space to express your circumstances, feelings and thoughts and being listened to with depth, attention, empathy and without judgement. Your therapist will likely ask you more about your reasons for seeking therapy and any symptoms you’re experiencing. You may also be asked questions about your past and the history of your issues, as well as how they currently impact your life in the present. Finally, your first session may be a powerful place to discuss what you would like to achieve with therapy and agree on the length, methods, and treatment approaches.

    Is online therapy effective?

    If you choose online over in-person therapy, rest assured that this has been proven to be just as effective as regular face to face therapy, and in some cases, even more effective. Also, choosing online therapy brings additional benefits, for example, avoiding long waiting times, greater flexibility with appointments, and you won’t need to travel to our practice. You can enjoy online therapy from the comfort of your home.

    How long the Therapy/counselling sessions last?

    Therapy/counselling sessions last 50 minutes and are held at regular weekly time slots. On occasions, we can allow some flexibility. You can discuss this with your therapist.

    Do you offer reduced rates/concessions?

    We offer low-cost rates at £60 per session to people with a low income, unemployed, students and NHS workers. Please highlight in your enquiry if you would like a concession rate and how you qualify for this. Depending on the availability of our therapists, we’ll do our best to accommodate your request.

    Do you have a cancellation policy?

    We have a 48 hours no-fee cancellation policy. However, you will be charged for sessions missed without giving the full notice.

    Our Practice in Central London

    Our comfortable and confidential therapy rooms are conveniently located 3 min walk from Oxford Circus station, in Central London (see map below). Change starts with Talking!

    Learn more:

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in London & Online

    Depression Counseling in London & Online

    CBT for Anxiety: Survival Guide

    What are Thinking Errors in CBT (and how to manage them)

    Depression In Women: What You Need To Know

     

    References:

    [1] Effects of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) on Symptom Change, Mindfulness, Self-Compassion, and Rumination in Clients With Depression, Anxiety, and Stress.

    [2] Evaluation of MBCT for Adolescents with ADHD and Their Parents: Impact on Individual and Family Functioning.

    [3] Group and Individual Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Are Both Effective: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial in Depressed People with a Somatic Disease.

    [4] The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being.

    [5] Mechanisms of mindfulness: Emotion regulation following a focused breathing induction.

    [6] Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources.

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    We're registered with AXA Health, AXA therapists, AXA counselling, Aviva, Vitality, Cigna, BPS, HCPC, BABCP
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