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Mindfulness (-Based Cognitive Therapy) for Life: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology in the Contemporary World
June 21, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT
The Harvard Medical School Distinguished Lecture in Mind Body Research and Health, an annual collaboration between the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, and the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.
Understanding and training the human mind has long been a driving force for ancient contemplative traditions and, more recently, for psychology. In the last forty years mindfulness-based programs have sought to provide a way to bring together ancient wisdom, modern psychology and the best available science to teach greater understanding of the human mind as well as the skills for effective action.
One of these programs, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was first developed to address one of the world’s most pressing public health challenges – depression. Depression affects some 230 million people across the world and will likely affect one billion at some point during their lifetime. MBCT uses psychological understanding of depression to help people learn the skills that can prevent depressive relapse and recurrence. Numerous randomized controlled trials have demonstrated it is effective, at least as effective as antidepressant medication. We are learning about how it works and using this to enhance its effectiveness. MBCT is increasingly accessible around the world. In short, the science of MBCT’s effectiveness, mechanisms, scalability and implementation is coming of age.
It is becoming increasingly clear that MBCT also teaches foundational skills of attention and self-regulation that can be used to unlock human capital and support flourishing. The work in Oxford has adapted MBCT to begin to support different groups of people (e.g., students, teachers and health care professionals), in different contexts (e.g., education, workplaces, prisons) learn skills to support their well-being and effectiveness. The evidence for MBCT’s broader acceptability, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness is growing.
Dr. Willem Kuyken is the Ritblat Professor of Mindfulness and Psychological at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. His work focuses on depression and its prevention and treatment. In particular, his research examines how mindfulness and mindfulness-based programs can prevent depression and enhance human potential across the lifespan. Dr. Kuyken has published more than 100 journal articles, including key papers on the effectiveness, mechanisms, and implementation of mindfulness-based programs. Together with Christina Feldman, he wrote Mindfulness – Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology, published in 2019 by Guilford Press. He is currently writing a Mindfulness for Life workbook and teacher manual, to be published in 2022 and 2023 respectively, also with Guilford Press.