Since 2006 research supports promising mindfulness-based therapies for a number of medical and psychiatric conditions, notably chronic pain (McCracken et al. 2007), stress (Grossman et al. 2004), anxiety and depression (Hofmann et al. 2010), substance abuse (Melemis 2008:141-157), and recurrent suicidal behavior (Williams et al. 2006). Bell (2009) gives a brief overview of mindful approaches to therapy, particularly family therapy, starting with a discussion of mysticism and emphasizing the value of a mindful therapist.
The Japanese psychiatrist Shoma Morita, who trained in Zen meditation, developed Morita therapy upon principles of mindfulness and non-attachment. Since the beginnings of Gestalt therapy in the early 1940s, mindfulness, referred to as “awareness”, has been an essential part of its theory and practice.
The British doctor, Clive Sherlock, developed Adaptation practice in 1977. Adaptation Practice is a structured programme of self-discipline.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction includes a variety of meditation techniques including body awareness and breathing exercises.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) psychotherapy combines cognitive therapy with mindfulness techniques as a treatment for major depressive disorder and many other disorders. Steven C. Hayes and others have developed acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), originally called “comprehensive distancing”, which uses strategies of mindfulness, acceptance, and behavior change.
Mindfulness is a “core” exercise used in Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a psychosocial treatment Marsha M. Linehan developed for treating people with borderline personality disorder. DBT is dialectic, explains Linehan (1993:19), in the sense of “the reconciliation of opposites in a continual process of synthesis.” As a practitioner of Buddhist meditation techniques, Linehan says:
This emphasis in DBT on a balance of acceptance and change owes much to my experiences in studying meditation and Eastern spirituality. The DBT tenets of observing, mindfulness, and avoidance of judgment are all derived from the study and practice of Zen meditations. (1993:20-21)
Hakomi therapy, under development by Ron Kurtz and others, is a somatic psychology based upon Asian philosophical precepts of mindfulness and nonviolence. Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), developed by Richard C. Schwartz, emphasizes the importance of both therapist and client engaging in therapy from the Self, which is the IFS term for one’s “spiritual center”.
The Self is curious about whatever arises in one’s present experience and open and accepting toward all manifestations.
Mindfulness techniques are included in a cognitive behavioral therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT was recently reviewed by SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.