Mindfulness Meets Modern Therapy

I know I have written about continuing education requirements in the past. Members of the Saskatchewan College of Psychologists are required to have 20 hours of continuing education each year. Personally I enjoy these workshops and training seminars because it’s a nice change of pace and more often than not I leave feeling like I’ve gotten some really good information and new tools.

This past weeks training was no exception. I attended a two day workshop with Dr. Bruno Cayoun, the founder of Mindfulness Integrated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MiCBT). I often use CBT in my practice, which focuses on changing an individual’s patterns of thinking and/or behavior in order to change the way they feel, but my knowledge and use of mindfulness is fairly limited. However I definitely see the value in it and this training seemed like the best of both worlds.

So what is mindfulness? To take from Psychology Today, mindfulness is the act of being aware and present in the current moment. When in this state you observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Dr. Cayoun believes that a mindful state is achieved through equanimity (new word for me!) which is an even mind; not elated or depressed but calm and even keeled.

MiCBT is a 10 week model that teaches clients exercises in mindfulness in the first part of therapy before moving on to more traditional CBT exercises. I had wrongly (very wrongly) assumed the practice of mindfulness wouldn’t be that challenging. On two occasions Dr. Cayoun had us practice meditation, the first time focusing on our breath, the second time doing a body scan. Both times it was ridiculously hard to stay focused on the task at hand. Absolutely every to-do popped into my head along with the most random thoughts. It’s kind of mind boggling the stuff that pops up (how bad will the ticks be this year? When will I get to see a Panda bear?) when you are supposed to focus on your breath or what your body is experiencing. Dr. Cayoun compared meditation to exercise. We exercise and challenge our body and when we first start, it is extremely difficult. Same goes for meditation. The benefits of practicing meditation include:  greater self- awareness, increased focus and emotional regulation, and less distraction from negative or irrelevant thoughts.

There is additional training using this model and I am tossing the idea around of taking it. The training expects participants to practice meditation daily, just as would be expected of clients. Makes sense to me because if I’m not being mindful, how the heck can I ask that of my clients?! In the meantime, I bought his book which reads like a self-help book, and am looking forward to practicing the model myself. We will see how it goes!



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