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Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Relapse Prophylaxis in Recurrent Unipolar Depression

Zin Segal, Ph.D.
Morgan Firestone Chair in Psychotherapy
Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology
University of Toronto

Can we change our brains by changing the way we think? In this talk, Dr. Zin Segal, M.D. discusses the development and evaluation of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT was created to prevent relapse of MDD in recovering individuals. To design MBCT, Dr. Segal and colleagues isolated the most powerful component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): it empowers individuals to recognize distorted thoughts. From there, MBCT was customized to depression. MBCT teaches patients, regardless of mood, to become objectively aware of their thoughts and physical experiences in a non-judgmental manner. After describing the therapy, Dr. Segal presents neuro-imaging evidence being used to explore how the therapy works. He concludes that MBCT counters the thought processes that may lead to depressive relapses, and can reduce relapse risk by fifty percent in patients with recurrent depression.