Users of MBCT and MMBPro may be surprised to see that we encourage them to take time away from our course and to split up sessions by a few weeks. We used this approach because using the practice first in therapists’ own lives is such an important part of learning it.
We use the experiential approach to learning throughout the course because creating personal experiences with the practice will help therapists build a strong foundation of mindfulness. We encourage all therapists to have their own daily practices as a way to relate to their patients’ experiences. When therapists have a strong foundation in the practice themselves, they can provide a unique and invaluable insight into a patient’s experience.
One of the biggest learning tools involved in the program is the experience of using MBCT in one’s daily life and recognizing how it can impact you. Therapists might reflect on many aspects of their own personal practice to relate to patients. Some reflections might include:
- How much effort is required to maintain a daily practice
- Whether mindfulness makes one feel better or worse in any given situation
- What methods of prioritizing a daily practice work best
When considering these reflections, it can also be helpful to remember that some reactions are more productive than others and some may be useful to share with patients. These reflections are useful when reminding oneself to accept any outcome of using the practice and continue forward with the program. It is our feeling that time away from the course meant for practice can only benefit users and enrich the online learning experience.
When therapists create a strong foundational practice in their lives, they are encouraged to then begin using the practice with patients. It is at this time that users of MBCT can really see the benefits of a regular practice in guiding patients through their own experience with mindfulness. All of the work that the therapist has already done toward understanding the 3-Minute Breathing Space and the mindfulness practice comes into play when they work with a patient to establish an individual practice. This is also the time that revisiting previously completed aspects of the program online is encouraged. Next to the therapist’s own personal experience in mindfulness, the online learning is a therapist’s greatest resource. We see this as one of the many benefits of online learning: the reusability of the activities and accessibility of content.
MBCT is based on the expectation that learners will use the program and adhere to its practices in their own practices and in their daily lives. Adherence happens when therapists follow something exactly, and don’t let discussions about side items derail the process. For this reason, although there are assignments throughout the program, we don’t discuss homework at the beginning of each session as may be expected. In an online program especially it is necessary to follow a strict schedule in order not to deviate from the proven science of therapy. We intentionally designed the program to work with a combination of online and individual practice, with each aspect providing a unique and equally valuable perspective.