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by Ruth A. Baer (Editor)
Academic Press, 2014
Review by Kamuran Elbeyoğlu on Feb 10th 2015

Mindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and Applications

Mindfulness is a technique that is integral to the Teachings of the Buddha and it is a very simple form of meditation that was little known in the West until recently. However, billed a "social phenomenon" by its leading advocate, Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is changing the face of health and humanity. Mindfulness refers to a compassionate and non-judgmental moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience. The ancient teachings of the eastern world have always spoken about the attainment of oneness. This can be defined as a pinnacle of spiritual achievement that permanently unites the divine essence of the adept or bodhisattva (aspirant of Buddhahood or enlightenment), to the very source of all creation, the Absolute, Tao or God. In Buddhism, this process of enlightenment or true freedom (i.e. attainment of nirvana, samadhi etc.) can only be achieved through the Bodhicitta, literally meaning the ‘enlightenment of the mind’.

Mindfulness-based treatments are helpful for many psychological difficulties in clinical and nonclinical populations. Participants can learn and use mindfulness skills in their daily life. These new skills appear to contribute therapeutic changes in many psychological processes and improved mental health. This book is the second edition of Mindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches Clinician’s Guide to Evidence Base and Applications, which is the first book to appear in Western literature on mindfulness-based therapy approaches, covering all of four main interventions, namely mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and acceptance-commitment therapy (ACT) published in 2006. This edition focuses mainly on MBSR, MBCT and related approaches instead of all four, because since 2006 the literature on mindfulness-based therapy approaches have expanded greatly and it would be impossible to cover all of them in a single volume.

The book is divided into five parts. As in the previous edition, all chapters are written by clinical researchers with good scientific credentials and extensive experience with the treatment they describe. Each chapter includes a well-developed theoretical and conceptual foundation, a clear description of the treatment procedures, a review of empirical support and a detailed case study illustrating how the intervention unfolds. Part I is designed as an introduction to the core practices and exercises. This chapter provides a detailed overview of the exercises and practices used to teach mindfulness and acceptance skills in many of the interventions. The rest of the parts is organized by the types of populations in which these treatments are used. They illustrate the breadth of creative application of mindfulness-based treatment and its potential for reducing suffering and improving quality of life.

Part II describes applications for psychological disorders in adults, including depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety, overeating and substance misuse. The first two chapters are about the use of MBCT for recurrent and resistant depression, respectively. First chapter sets out the rationale and theoretical background for MBCT and outlines the mechanisms through which MBCT facilitates participants’ learning and how MBCT supports this learning. In the second chapter the rationale for applying MBCT to patients with treatment-resistant depression is described, and specific pitfalls and adaptations that may be used to facilitate effective treatment is considered. Fourth chapter describes the development and implementation of MBCT for bipolar disorder. Chapter 5 describes the empirical basis and theoretical rationale for incorporating mindfulness and acceptance-based strategies in the behavioral treatment of generalized anxiety disorder and presents a case study as an example of how this treatment unfolds and specific considerations that arise. Chapter 6 provides an overview of the populations that have been enrolled in mindfulness-based eating awareness training programs. The last chapter is about mindfulness-based relapse prevention for additive behaviors.

Part III includes applications across the lifespan: children, teens, adults, people about to become parents and older adults. The first chapter (Chapter 8) in this section is about mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to children. It describes how mindfulness techniques differ when conducting groups with children. Chapter 9 describes a recently developed mindfulness-based intervention for teenagers with promising support that can be implemented in home, school and relationship settings. Chapter 10 introduces mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting program, which is a formal adaptation of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It describes how to cultivate inner resources for the transition to parenthood and beyond. The last chapter is about mindfulness-based elder care. It suggests that mindfulness-based interventions offer an alternative framework for engaging with our own aging, illness, loss and death, and also for providing care-receivers and care-givers coping skills for living with challenges.

Part IV addresses applications for medical populations such as people with chronic pain and cancer patients. The chapter on mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain articulates how clinicians can meet the urgent public health need for more effective pain relief by tailoring mindfulness-based approaches to treatment and prevention that leverage patients’ inner resources for self-management, self-regulation and self-healing, including attention, awareness, compassion and connection. The next chapter focuses on mindfulness-based cancer recovery and describes an adaptation of mindfulness-based stress reduction treatment for cancer patients.

The last part is about applications for work-related stress in nonclinical populations.  The first section in this part explores the benefits of integrating mindfulness into the lives of health-care professionals and therapists in training within three pathways: 1) mindfulness as self-care, 2) becoming a mindful clinician, and 3) developing the foundations for providing mindfulness-informed or mindfulness-based treatment to patients and clients. The last chapter is about mindfulness training in high stress professions. It explores the construct of resilience from a cognitive neuroscience and cognitive training perspective. It proposes that strengthening the core cognitive systems of attention and working memory with mindfulness training may be a route by which to bolster resilience in high stress cohorts.

Each chapter in this book, besides providing a strong theoretical and conceptual foundation, also explores the clinical and practical issues that may arise during treatment and how they can be managed. The result is a close-up view of how these treatments are implemented, the skills required for therapists, the responses that can be expected from participants, and the issues that professionals wishing to use these treatments must consider.

This book is intended for clinicians, researchers, teachers and students at all levels of expertise. Newcomers to this area will find helpful descriptions of the nature of mindfulness, its theoretical and conceptual underpinnings, and also will gain insights into how it works to reduce suffering and how the interventions are implemented. I heartily recommend it as both a valuable tool for classroom use to facilitate discussions for any classes in clinical  psychology and also for initiating further research in related fields. Even though it is not intended for general audience it can be helpful for anyone who wish to have a greater self awareness and develop adaptive characteristics such as wisdom, equanimity, compassion and well-being. Of most importance to the present volume is the rapidly growing array of mental health treatment and stress-reduction programs based on secular adaptations of mindfulness training, several of which now have extensive empirical support for their efficacy in a wide range of populations.

 

© 2015 Kamuran Elbeyoğlu

 

Prof. Dr. Kamuran Elbeyoğlu, Toros University, The School of Management and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Mersin, TURKEY