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May 2014 by PCI College

Bitesize Book Review “The Mindful Way Through Depression” By Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

This weeks Bitesize Book Review is “The Mindful Way Through Depression” by PCI College Lecturer Donagh Ward

For decades now CBT has been seen as one effective way of treating depression, primarily by helping the depressed person to identify and challenge their negative automatic thoughts which are fueling their negative emotions. 

This book acknowledges the strengths of the CBT model of therapy but seeks to take it one level further. The ‘Mindful Way Through Depression’ brings together four of the finest minds in the fields of CBT and mindfulness to explore a new way of helping people to better understand and break the cycle of chronic unhappiness which is overwhelming them. Mark Williams, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford, John Teasdale is a former senior researcher in the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, while Zindel Segal is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Here Williams, Teasdale and Segal join forces with renowned scientist, writer, and meditation teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn. Zinn has been teaching his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program since 1979.

As the title of that book suggests they termed the amalgamation of these methods Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Research conducted on MBCT has shown that it effectively halves the relapse rate for those who had experienced more than two episodes of depression and in Britain MBCT has since been included in the NICE guidelines as a treatment of choice for recurrent depression.
The authors are very strong on explaining how bringing awareness to routine daily activities can help the depressed person to ground themselves in the here-and-now rather than ruminating over negative thoughts:

“Direct sensing of the body turns up the volume on the body’s messages and turns down the volume on mental chatter.” (p.103)

Helpfully, the book is accompanied by a CD of guided meditations. Despite the title, I feel that this book would appeal to a broad range of people - not just those who are depressed - who may be having difficulties with self-defeating negative thoughts, moods or behaviour. By introducing the reader to a combination of Western cognitive behavioural techniques and Eastern mindfulness philosophies, this wonderful work acts as an invaluable resource for both therapists and non-professionals.

Donagh Ward
PCI College Lecturer (May 2014)

"The Mindful Way Through Depression” (2007), The Guildford Press By Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn


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