Intervention for Depression, Anxiety and Emotional Distress


Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is an innovative approach that combines the practice and clinical application of mindfulness meditation with the tools of cognitive therapy. The heart of this work lies in acquainting patients with the characteristic cognitive and emotional patterns of mood disorders, while simultaneously inviting them to develop a new healthier relationship to these patterns.

How does MBCT work?
MBCT is a group-based brief intervention. Groups meet once-weekly for eight sessions and participants are asked to do home-based practice during the week. There is also a full-day training between the 6th and 7th session.

What you will learn:
1. To become more aware of, and relate more constructively to, difficult bodily sensations, feelings and thoughts
2. Simple breathing meditations to become more aware of the present moment
3. Information about emotional distress, depression and anxiety
4. Cognitive therapy exercises that show the links between thinking and feeling
5. To see more clearly the patterns of the mind
6. How to recognize when our mood is beginning to go down- to catch the spark before the flame
7. To break the link between negative mood and the negative thinking that could cause a downward spiral

Article: The Application of MBCT to Depression by Matthew Watkin


Applications of MBCT

Relapse in Depression:
During an episode of depression, negative mood occurs alongside negative thinking and bodily sensations of sluggishness and fatigue. When the episode has passed, and the mood has returned to normal, the negative thinking and body sensations tend to disappear as well. However, during the episode an association has been learned between the various symptoms. This means that when negative mood happens again (for any reason), it will tend to trigger all the other symptoms in proportion to the strength of association. When this happens, the old habits of negative thinking will start up again, negative thinking gets into the same rut, and a full-blown episode of depression may be the result.
The data behind MBCT indicate that it effectively reduces relapse rates by 50% in patients with recurrent depression. In fact, it has recently been recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the U.K. as an empirically supported depression prevention treatment. The empirical support for MBCT has raised awareness about the need for effective and comprehensive treatment of depression and individuals can participate in this treatment regardless of whether they recovered from their depression via medication or talk therapy. (see links for further information)

The success of MBCT with treatment of relapse in depression has led to its use with several other conditions including:

  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • panic disorder
  • bi-polar mood disorder

MBCT Cape Town Next Group: 25 August 2020

Feedback from past participants

“I can see practicing will change the quality of my life and health.”

“It (MBCT) has given me an intimate sense of who I am, of control… It has changed my outlook on life and given me perspective.”

“It helped me realize that my ‘auto-pilot’ was in overdrive and gave me ways to take my foot off the petrol.”

“It has given me some focus and direction; taken me out of a big black hole which I was in at the beginning of the course.”
“I have slowed everything down to a manageable reality… spending less the in the past and future and more time in the present.”

“(This) course has given me tools.”

“It has grounded me with my anxiety.”

“It (MBCT) has increased my skills in handling up(s) and downs. I am able to put distance between reacting and acting.”

“I am really pleased to have had the opportunity to begin to really understand the practice of mindfulness, the vital ideas of acceptance and non-judgement (and) being with what is in the moment.”

“I can feel changes taking place inside me and in my reaction to circumstances or other people”