You can spend years in graduate school, internship, and clinical practice. You can learn to skillfully conceptualize cases and structure interventions for your clients. You can have every skill and advantage as a therapist, but if you want to make the most of every session, both you and your client need to show up in the therapy room. Really show up. And this kind of mindful presence can be a lot harder than it sounds.
The evolution of treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) began with traditional strategies for managing mental illness; before the practice of psychotherapy was really developed, disorders like OCD were viewed as spiritual or moral issues, with the problem being the thoughts themselves, rather than the sufferer’s relationship to them. Then, following the emergence of the psychoanalytic model, talk therapy became the new standard of treatment for coping with obsessions and compulsions: in it, they were treated as symbolic manifestations of subconscious problems.
Researcher Stanley Block, MD, developed Mind-Body Bridging, a holistic approach to healing and wellness based on the I-System, an internal system we each have that essentially overrides our ability to function naturally when we are triggered by stressful situations (see last week’s post for a more in-depth look at Block’s definition of the I-System).
The skill of mindfulness develops from one’s ability to notice how the mind deals with the information it receives through sensory processes and the brain. By analyzing how your mind organizes, interacts with, and assigns meaning to your thoughts, you can observe the patterns and ingrained tendencies by which you frame and evaluate the world. The goal of mindfulness practice among OCD sufferers is to cultivate a positive relationship between the you and the mind.
As mindfulness has become deeply entrenched in today’s most utilized and accepted psychotherapy modalities, there have been various incarnations of mindfulness-based approaches to healing and wellness. Of course not all mindfulness-based therapies are created equal; some are backed by research and others aren’t. One approach of the former group, Mind-Body Bridging (MBB) was developed and meticulously researched for nearly 20 years by physicians, psychologists, researchers, and mental health and substance abuse professionals.
Editor’s note: This is the second half of a two-part Q&A with Sameet Kumar, PhD, author of Mindfulness for Prolonged Grief. If you missed the first half, you can check it out here.
Following changes to the DSM-5, most significantly the removal of the “bereavement exclusion” from diagnoses of depression and adjustment disorder, is there a potential now for the increased “medicalization” of those suffering with grief?