Mindfulness or CBT in Hypnotherapy – Which Works Best?

Mindfulness or CBT in Hypnotherapy – Which Works Best?

I’m huge fan of both Mindfulness and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and regularly use both to very good effect in hypnotherapy. 

People often ask me which approach I prefer most. The answer is; it depends on the client. 

You could write a book on the subject (and I’m sure people have), but I’ve tried to provide a quick comparison of the two in just a few paragraphs. 

To use business jargon, mindfulness is a strategic approach to life whereas CBT is a more of a tactical solution for dealing with specific issues. CBT is unashamedly goal-focussed. 

Mindfulness is about living in the moment and being in tune with your thoughts and the world around you. The past has happened and we can’t change it, but we can learn from it. We can’t predict the future, so why waste precious time worrying about something that may not even happen? When we live in the moment, the world seems a different place.

 Setbacks and challenges still happen (they are an evitable part of life that we need to experience), but they don’t seem insurmountable. 

We don’t know how long we’ve got to live, but mindfulness helps us appreciate and make best use of the time we have. If you think about it, the only time you can ever do anything or achieve anything, is right this second now. 

Mindfulness helps us stay calm and rational and solution-focussed, even in the most difficult circumstances. 

Much of the above applies to CBT, which contends that events trigger thoughts, which in turn trigger unwanted consequences like emotions, physical symptoms and unhelpful behaviours. 

The ‘cognitive’ part of CBT is most similar to mindfulness and involves: 

  • Changing demands into preferences – instead of ‘I must win’ we reframe it to ‘I would like to win and I will try my best to win, but I accept that someone else may perform better me’
  • Avoiding catastrophic language – instead of saying ‘I’m drowning in work’ we use the more realistic ‘I’m very busy at the moment’
  • Developing a high frustration tolerance – instead of obsessing about things that bother us, we learn to be more tolerant of them
  • Being more accepting of ourselves and other people – we are who we are, no-one is perfect and blame isn’t always appropriate 

Where the two approaches really differ, is in the ‘behavioural’ part of CBT. Mindfulness is a meditation based process, whereas a big chunk of CBT involves repeatedly physically confronting the issue that bothers you, to prove to yourself that you can survive it.   

It can be argued that a ‘mindful’ way of life is about prevention rather than cure, because if you practise mindfulness, you’re less likely to experience the issues that CBT is so good at resolving.Where CBT is so effective, is in helping manage and overcome issues. With CBT, you understand the psychological drivers behind the issue, but you overcome it with commitment and determination.