Can Mindfulness Rival Talk Therapy?

In the world of therapy, there’s a lot of debate as to which method is the most effective. All of them have certain benefits and drawbacks. But a new study is showing that mindfulness might be just as effective as other traditional forms of therapy.

The study involved an eight-week group mindfulness training course with 215 people who were diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and stress. Some were put into the mindfulness group, others into traditional talk therapy. The participants filled out questionnaires before and after the intervention, which measured symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and somatization (feeling symptoms in one’s body), obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.

At the end of the eight week period, their symptoms had been greatly reduced. But interestingly enough, there was little difference between the two groups — meaning each were equally effective.

“Our new research shows that mindfulness group therapy has the equivalent effect as individual CBT for a wide range of psychiatric symptoms that are common among this patient group,” said study author Jan Sundquist. “We have shown in a previous study that mindfulness group therapy is just as effective as individual CBT for the treatment of typical depression and anxiety symptoms; something we also observed in the new study.”

What does this Mean?

This means that mindfulness and talk therapy both have powerful impacts on our lives. BUT that doesn’t mean one is better. In fact, the best way to look at this is to recognize both are wonderful tools to have in your arsenal. Imagine combining mindfulness practices with talk therapy…what sort of positive benefit would that have on you?

How mindfulness impacts us:

  • Learning to let go
  • More present
  • Less anxious
  • Peace of mind

Again and again, mindfulness has been shown to help people mentally, physically, and emotionally. Combined with talk therapy, this could change many people’s lives. In a way, it’s like combining the best of the east and the west!

Mindfulness Practices and Easy-to-Use Talk Therapy

So how exactly do you combine these two practices?

First, recognize that mindfulness isn’t just a ‘practice’ you do once a day or so. It’s actually a way of living. Nevertheless, there are some great techniques that can help!

  • Mindful walking. Sometimes sitting meditation isn’t really accessible, for a number of reasons. Walking while incorporating deep breathing, positive affirmations, or expanding your awareness focuses your mind in the moment.
  • Mindful eating. How often do you sit down to eat, completely distracted? Perhaps you’re checking your email, Twitter or Facebook, or just spaced out. Stop! Focus on where you are and what you’re experiencing. Your mind will settle much faster.
  • Mindful speaking & listening. When you’re calmly attuned to the moment, you easily become a better listener. Focus on letting go of your own internal dialogue, and you’ll see your interpersonal relationships flourish.
  • Mindful showering and washing. It’s hard to believe something as simple as showering can be fulfilling, but we often overlook these simple moments of pleasure due to our racing mind. Slow down and really experience what you’re doing and how it feels.
  • Practice yoga. Find a calm yoga class and go! Yoga is the perfect place to practice mindfulness. Just like in the shower, bring all your awareness to what you’re doing. Combining this with deep breathing gives a profound rest to our minds.

Pretty simple, right?

Beyond that, online talk therapy can be a huge benefit to us, especially when times are tough. There’s simply nothing wrong with utilizing modern technology to find some support when you need it. But what are some benefits?

  • Accessibility. What could be could possibly be easier? You can literally pick up your phone, anytime, and text a professional. This is especially great if you live in a remote area where you can’t really find someone around you. Those that are physically disabled can also great benefit from this!
  • Convenience. What could be better than reaching out at whatever time suits you? You can text a therapist at 3am if you want. This takes away from the hassle of scheduling for appointments. Not to mention if you’re uncomfortable talking face-to-face, this style of therapy is perfect for you.
  • Affordability. Interestingly, online therapy is also way cheaper — for both the patient and the therapist.
  • Social stigma. If you feel strange about ‘going’ to a therapist, online therapy can take on a whole different image in your mind. You don’t have to sit in a waiting room or see other staff.
  • Anonymity. When you don’t have to see anyone or sit in an office, it brings a certain level of freedom. It’s easier to get into the nitty-gritty issues.
  • Variant ways to communicate. Texting can be a great way to do therapy because it allows us to think through our responses. Rarely do we get the opportunity to do something like this! And studies have shown writing is very releasing. Having a written record also allows you to have a reference point in future discussions and assess change and progress.

What’s been your experience with mindfulness and mental health, or talk therapy and mental health? Have you tried combining them? Would you consider doing something like online therapy?


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