Because of recent research on the effects of mindfulness on the brain, more and more clinical practitioners are incorporating the therapeutic modality into their practice.
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming conscious of your internal and external environment. It is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting the existing feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding activity. It can be used as a therapeutic practice among therapists and psychologists. And it has been used as a spiritual practice for decades.
Teen Chronic Relapse
Certain therapeutic orientations such Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been combined with mindfulness in order to further support the freedom from destructive thought patterns. For example, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for depression includes the practice of becoming aware of your inner and outer experiences. While also investigating and replacing the specific thoughts that might lead to a depressed mood. Learn more about teen chronic relapse prevention here.
Similarly, the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington developed Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for working with those who suffer from addictions. The therapy is intended to rework the imprisoning thoughts that keep an addictive cycle in place. With a practice of mindfulness, a teen who is addicted to alcohol. For example, can become aware of the triggers that lead him to drink. And the destructive habitual patterns, and the unconscious and automatic reaction that lead to making poor choices.
The ability to do change unconscious, habitual behavior is the important opportunity that brain research has uncovered. The brain has a wondrous capacity for learning and rewiring itself, which is known as neuroplasticity. Mindfulness facilitates neuroplasticity, allowing teens or anyone with destructive habits to change patterns regardless of how worn out those habits are.
Paying close attention to present circumstances is incredibly important, and it’s where mindfulness comes in as a therapeutic modality. By staying present, each moment becomes opportunity to make a choice, different than one made in the past. Mindfulness can help a teen stay keenly aware of what he or she is doing in order to create new, healthier habits that are more life affirming. Carrying out different choices that are positive and healthy may be challenging at the start. But with practice, they too can become habitual. Finding and creating new habitual thought patterns and choices (healthier ones!) is the definition of neuroplasticity.
Now, combine the practice of mindfulness with addiction treatment, as the Addictive Behaviors Research Center has done, and this is the therapeutic modality of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention.
Although mindfulness is a practice that can be supportive, regardless of age, it can be particularly useful for teens because their brains are still developing. Both the grey matter, which contains most of the brain’s neurons, and the frontal cortex are still in development. In addition to facilitating a life of sobriety, Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention can benefit the body, mind, and heart. Indeed, there are immediate benefits along with long-term, positive effects on life that bring satisfaction, joy, love, and fulfilling relationships.
Addictive Behaviors Research Center. Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, University of Washington. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 from http://www.mindfulrp.com/