Mindfulness is the practice of taking a step back and giving your full attention to your emotions, task at hand and/or relationships. Mindfulness is one of the four tenets in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) as well as a key component in the Internal Family Systems model (IFS). Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years, with its origins able to be traced back to early traditional Eastern spiritual practices such as those found in Hinduism and Buddhism. Today mindfulness has been adapted to the secular, Western version used to help people accept and tolerate powerful emotions in order to identify and challenge habits, beliefs and/or difficult situations. Mindfulness is used to increase an individual’s ability to self-regulate their attention, increase distress tolerance, increase their ability to accept what cannot be changed, and redirect the instinct to judge or assume and replace it with openness and curiosity.
How does Mindfulness work?
In practice, mindfulness can adapt to many different modalities and individual needs. At its core mindfulness is taught and practiced in order to help with many different facets of therapeutic treatment, this includes: reducing anxiety, addressing symptoms of depression, trauma processing, and challenging thought distortions. There are many different ways to implement mindfulness, and you should work closely with your therapist to determine what interventions may fit best. You will learn skills that help you identify and connect with your environment, your five senses, your body and your emotions as well as the intersectionality of each piece.
Who Can Benefit from Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been used for thousands of years and is a part of many different therapeutic models. Originally implemented as an intervention to help with emotional regulation, anxiety, symptoms of depression, as well as specifically Borderline Personality Disorder in the case of DBT. Mindfulness is also used to help ground an individual who is processing trauma, increase awareness in individuals working on impulsivity, and challenge self-judgements in individuals working on increasing self-esteem.
Do I have to be engaging in DBT in order to benefit from mindfulness?
No, mindfulness is an important piece of many different therapeutic modalities and it can also be practiced independently of a formalized modality. You should work closely with your therapist to determine how to implement mindfulness into your treatment.
How frequent are sessions?
At minimum, sessions should be weekly. However, you can work with your therapist to determine if more frequent and/or longer sessions would be beneficial.
Will I have to do “homework”?
In order to fully benefit from mindfulness, practice is very important. It also helps to determine whether the interventions and tools used in sessions are translatable to your real life. This can look like practicing visualization outside of session or using worksheets provided by your therapist, amongst other things.