The science behind mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 8-week programme, developed by Jon Kabat Zinn. MBCT was adapted by Mark Williams, Zindel Segal and John Teasdale to incorporate our knowledge of a widely-respected treatment, namely Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

MBCT employs the same structure as MBSR but has been refined to include elements of CBT. This makes it clinically effective not only for personal development and stress management, but also for the treatment of ongoing factors that lead to mental health problems, such as worry.


Only trained therapists with a core professional practice, like CBT therapists, and Clinical/Counselling Psychologists with training in CBT can ethically deliver MBCT practices. The delivery of this programme requires specialist training, ongoing continuous professional development and adherence to ethical and professional guidelines, including regular clinical supervision. In fact, Nicola Smith is one of the very few MBCT teachers in the whole of Northamptonshire.

During our 8-week courses or 1-2-1 sessions, you will learn the important skill of focusing on what happens in your mind and body - and become more familiar with the workings of your own mind patterns and habits. This helps you plan how best to respond, rather than react in your old familiar, but often unhelpful ways.

You’ll learn to increase your awareness so that you can see things as they are, not how you would like them to be. We often spend too much time reflecting on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness helps you to keep grounded in what’s happening now rather than being lost in your thoughts.

In this video, Professor Mark Williams introduces Mindfulness. Professor Williams co-developed Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) at the University of Bangor, a treatment for anxiety, stress and depression that is at least as effective as drugs at preventing new episodes of depression. It's now one of the preferred treatments for depression recommended by the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Mindfulness reduces the risk of depression by half in people who are the most recurrent ... people who have had three or more episodes
— Professor Mark Williams

The facts

Mindfulness practise:

  • Reduces anxiety, depression and stress

  • Helps you cope with illness and pain

  • Increases positive moods

  • Cultivates compassion for self and others

  • Can improve attention and memory