Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in Edinburgh

A warm welcome to you! I’m Cristina, a certified therapist at the Edinburgh Therapy Service. In a world where our thoughts often wander between the present and the future, the true beauty of life lies right in the here and now, frequently overlooked. MBCT holds the key to embracing the present moment and cultivating a serene detachment from the confines of our minds. My commitment to this approach is unwavering, as I integrate its essence into my practice. So, let’s delve into the depths of what MBCT truly entails!

What is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, often referred to as MBCT, is an innovative therapeutic approach that blends two powerful practices: mindfulness and cognitive therapy. Developed to help people who frequently experience periods of depression, MBCT offers a unique and holistic framework that doesn’t just focus on alleviating symptoms, but also on preventing relapses. 


While MBCT was originally designed to help individuals dealing with depression, its benefits extend beyond that. This approach can also be valuable for managing anxiety, and stress, and even enhancing general well-being. The mindfulness and cognitive techniques taught in MBCT can provide tools for dealing with various emotional challenges and promoting a healthier mindset overall.


At its core, MBCT draws from elements of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), a well-known therapeutic technique. However, MBCT distinguishes itself by seamlessly incorporating mindfulness practices into the process. These mindfulness techniques are rooted in ancient traditions, particularly mindfulness meditation, which encourages individuals to be present in the moment and observe their thoughts and feelings without judgment.


The fundamental premise of MBCT is that individuals who have psychological difficulties tend to get caught up in negative thought patterns, often leading to a spiral of relapse. By merging mindfulness practices with cognitive therapy, MBCT aims to help clients become more aware of these automatic thought patterns and develop healthier ways of responding to them. Through this heightened awareness, individuals can learn to disengage from the cycle of rumination and self-criticism that often accompanies mental health problems.


The beauty of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy lies in its holistic nature. It empowers clients not only to manage their symptoms skillfully but also to cultivate a sustainable sense of well-being. By learning to embrace the present moment and detach from distressing thoughts, individuals can foster a more compassionate and present relationship with themselves.


Incorporating mindfulness into cognitive therapy, MBCT provides a practical toolkit that allows individuals to navigate life’s challenges with greater resilience.

How to book?

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contact at edinburghtherapyservice.com


Our therapists are qualified and registered with reputable professional associations for psychotherapy and counselling.

How can mindfulness-based cognitive therapy help

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy offers a range of benefits that can help individuals manage their emotions, overcome challenges, and enhance their overall well-being. Here’s how MBCT can be of assistance:


Managing depression: It was initially developed to prevent relapse in depression. By teaching individuals to be more aware of their thoughts and feelings through mindfulness, MBCT helps break the cycle of negative rumination and prevents the recurrence of depressive episodes.


Anxiety reduction: Mindfulness practices can help manage anxiety by teaching people to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment. This reduces reactivity and helps prevent anxiety from spiralling out of control.


Stress reduction: MBCT equips clients with tools to manage stress by fostering a present-moment awareness. This can prevent stress from accumulating and turning into chronic stress, leading to better stress management.


Emotional regulation: Mindfulness skills can help individuals better regulate their emotions. By becoming more attuned to their emotional experiences, they can respond to emotions in a more balanced and adaptive way.


Increased self-awareness: Through mindfulness practices, individuals can develop a deeper understanding of themselves, their thought patterns, and their emotional triggers. This self-awareness empowers them to make more conscious choices.


Enhanced focus and concentration: Regular mindfulness practice can improve attention and concentration. This can be particularly beneficial for those who struggle with distractions and difficulties in staying focused.


Self-compassion: This approach encourages clients to cultivate self-compassion, treating themselves with kindness and understanding. This can counteract self-critical thought patterns common in depression and anxiety.


Overall well-being: By integrating mindfulness into their lives, people can experience an improved overall sense of well-being. They may feel more connected to the present moment, experience greater joy in everyday activities, and develop a more positive outlook.


Relapse prevention: MBCT equips individuals with skills to recognize early signs of psychological distress. By catching these signs early, they can intervene to prevent a relapse.


MBCT is a versatile approach that can be tailored to everyone’s needs. Whether someone is struggling with depression, anxiety, or stress, or simply wants to enhance their mental wellness, the mindfulness and cognitive techniques taught in MBCT can offer practical tools for navigating life’s challenges with greater resilience and awareness.

Techniques used in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy draws on a range of techniques to help individuals enhance their awareness and develop a more balanced relationship with their thoughts and emotions. Here are some of the key techniques often used in MBCT:


Mindful breathing: Focusing on the breath helps anchor attention to the present moment. This technique promotes relaxation and cultivates awareness of bodily sensations.


Body scan: This involves directing attention to different parts of the body, and noticing sensations without judgment. It helps to connect with physical experiences.


Mindful observation: Observing thoughts, emotions, and sensations without getting caught up in them fosters a sense of detachment and reduces reactivity.


Thought labelling: This technique involves labelling thoughts as they arise (e.g., “thinking,” “planning”), promoting awareness of the thinking process and reducing automatic identification with thoughts.


Sensory awareness: Engaging the senses mindfully in everyday activities, such as eating or walking, encourages a heightened appreciation of the present moment.


Loving-kindness meditation: Cultivating feelings of compassion and kindness towards oneself and others can counteract self-criticism and foster a positive mindset.


Thought defusion: This technique helps individuals distance themselves from unhelpful thoughts, viewing them as passing mental events rather than objective truths.


Cognitive restructuring: MBCT integrates cognitive therapy’s techniques for challenging and reframing negative thought patterns.


Acceptance of emotions: Encouraging people to acknowledge and allow their emotions, even challenging ones, without judgment.


Mindful movement: Engaging in gentle movement practices, such as yoga, while staying attuned to bodily sensations and breath, fosters a mind-body connection.


Three-minute breathing space: A brief practice involving mindful awareness of breath, bodily sensations, and thoughts, helping clients transition from automatic pilot to a more present state.


As psychotherapists, our understanding of these techniques further enriches our therapeutic practice, particularly as we integrate them with our other approaches like cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and compassion-focused therapy (CFT).

What issues does MBCT help with? 

Although its primary inception was rooted in treating depression, its applicability extends beyond this domain. Research highlights its effectiveness in diverse spheres, including:


Depression and low mood



Chronic pain



Overall well-being

Your MBCT therapist in Edinburgh

Mindfulness occupies a pivotal role within my therapeutic framework. Its significance resonates not only within my approach but also permeates through other methodologies like acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and compassion-focused therapy (CFT). While I centre my attention on CBT and ACT, I seamlessly integrate aspects of CFT and MCFT into my practice. This integration stems from my conviction that fostering mindfulness and compassion stands as a cornerstone for nurturing resilience and crafting lives that are replete with depth and significance. 


In a world where our attention often drifts to the past or the future, we inadvertently overlook the present—the only moment where we can truly relish and embrace the world’s marvels. The art of being present is indeed a skill, one that can be honed through practice. Collaboratively, I’m here to guide you in nurturing this skill, aiding you in becoming a person more adept at living in the here and now, fully immersed in the present moment.


If you believe that the combination of MBCT along with CBT, ACT, or CFT could be beneficial for your path ahead, don’t hesitate to get in touch and connect with us today. I’m genuinely excited to begin this journey alongside you.


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Examples of research showing MBCT’s effectiveness

Kuyken, W., Warren, F. C., Taylor, R. S., Whalley, B., Crane, C., Bondolfi, G., Hayes, R., Huijbers, M., Ma, H., Schweizer, S., Segal, Z., Speckens, A., Teasdale, J. D., Van Heeringen, K., Williams, M., Byford, S., Byng, R., & Dalgleish, T. (2016). Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in Prevention of Depressive Relapse: An Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis From Randomized Trials. JAMA psychiatry, 73(6), 565–574. 


van Aalderen, J. R., Donders, A. R., Giommi, F., Spinhoven, P., Barendregt, H. P., & Speckens, A. E. (2012). The efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in recurrent depressed patients with and without a current depressive episode: a randomized controlled trial. Psychological medicine, 42(5), 989–1001. 


Eisendrath, S. J., Gillung, E., Delucchi, K., Mathalon, D. H., Yang, T. T., Satre, D. D., Rosser, R., Sipe, W. E., & Wolkowitz, O. M. (2015). A Preliminary Study: Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy versus Sertraline as First-line Treatments for Major Depressive Disorder. Mindfulness, 6(3), 475–482. 

Shetty, R., Kongasseri, S., & Rai, S. (2020). Efficacy of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy on Children With Anxiety. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 34(4), 306-318.

Pardos-Gascón, E. M., Narambuena, L., Leal-Costa, C., Ramos-Morcillo, A. J., Ruzafa-Martínez, M., & van-der Hofstadt Román, C. J. (2021). Psychological Therapy in Chronic Pain: Differential Efficacy between Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Journal of clinical medicine, 10(16), 3544. 


Hepark, S., Janssen, L., de Vries, A., Schoenberg, P. L. A., Donders, R., Kan, C. C., & Speckens, A. E. M. (2019). The Efficacy of Adapted MBCT on Core Symptoms and Executive Functioning in Adults With ADHD: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Attention Disorders, 23(4), 351–362.


Janssen, L., Kan, C., Carpentier, P., Sizoo, B., Hepark, S., Schellekens, M., . . . Speckens, A. (2019). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy v. treatment as usual in adults with ADHD: A multicentre, single-blind, randomised controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 49(1), 55-65. 


Gu, Y., Xu, G., & Zhu, Y. (2018). A Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for College Students With ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 22(4), 388–399. 

The Edinburgh Therapy Service is a psychotherapy and counseling practice based in Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). We offer therapy both in-person in Edinburgh and online, available in English and Spanish.

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