The following four models are discussed in the review: mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), metacognitive therapy (MCT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). All four models are aimed at achieving greater psychological openness to eliminate negative thoughts and feelings. Particular attention is paid to changing the context and function of cognition, building up a large and flexible stock, solving more complex issues than in the early forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
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According to Segal, Williams, and Teasdale (2002), decentering is a change in attitude to thoughts, that is, a way to go beyond the boundaries of one’s ideas. For example, the technique of automatic thought searching can be considered as a form of a decentralized view. An automatic thought at the moment of its occurrence is not realized, it is a folded structure, the awareness of which is possible in principle. It does not happen in a brief period during which an emotional-cognitive structure is formed, and this period can be measured in milliseconds. It is necessary to work out the ability to perceive oneself as one of the points on the map, being equal with other aspects. It is considered to be a decentering, that is, a look from the world at oneself.
Consciousness training in MBCT begins with focusing on breathing and bodily sensations, which leads to improved well-being and harmonization of behavior. Regular meditation practices are used to change the dysfunctional attitudes and beliefs that underlie any psychological disorder.
There are “being” and “doing” modes of mind in MBCT. For example, a person can do household chores while in the “being” mode, which is designed to realize one’s instant experience directly. The difference between the modes is that negative cognitive thoughts arise and are perceived from the decentralized point of view while in the “being” mode and the objects of awareness go naturally, and not as problems that need to be solved.
Acceptance and commitment therapy aims to ensure that patients act by their goals and values while maintaining awareness and acceptance of their thoughts and feelings.
Psychological rigidity in ACT is the ability to behave according to one’s values despite the presence of thoughts, feelings or bodily sensations that impede this. This skill is acquired in the course of changing a person’s attitude to his inner experiences, in contrast to traditional attempts to change the symptoms themselves or the frequency of their manifestation. For instance, by separating a person’s subjective experiences (pain or sadness) from his behavior (persistent exercise that brings pain), we allow the manifestation of action that is directly motivated by human values.
According to Szabo, Long, Villatte, & Hayes (2014), psychological rigidity is aimed at ACT through six processes: defusion, acceptance, self-knowledge as a perspective, flexible contact with the present, values and committed action. Six processes are deeply interconnected; for example, cohesion with thoughts causes avoidance of experience and leads away from the present moment. Acceptance of knowledge in itself does not make sense, without directed actions.
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Self in perspective, according to ACT, is the ability to consider the experience in the flexibility of self-perception. For example, if values are obscure, it is not known what actions to take. Without contact with the self, releasing the feelings may seem a threat to the person and interferes with the acceptance.
Dialectical thinking is a unique form of thinking that allows revealing a contradiction in reality, a connection in the personality, finding a middle way in the synthesis of polarized opposites. DBT encourages the formation of flexible dialectical patterns of thinking and behavior instead of a rigid black and white type of intellection.
One of the reasons that the ‘observe’ and ‘describe’ skills in DBT are differentiated from each another is the diversity between immediate experience and cognitive interpretation. Participation skills imply perceived immersion so that people feel non-verbal unconscious fluidity in their actions.
Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: A new approach to preventing relapse. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Szabo, T. G., Long, D. M., Villatte, M., & Hayes, S. C. (2014). Mindfulness in contextual cognitive‐behavioral models. Handbook of mindfulness: Theory and research, 130-147.