It can be really exciting to come across research offering insight into new techniques . . .
. . . particularly when the method allows us to reach more people than we usually can.
A team of researchers out of the Center for Primary Health Care Research, Lund University, Sweden, led by Jan Sundquist, MD, PhD, wanted to compare the outcome of mindfulness-based group therapy against that of individual-based cognitive therapy (CBT).
They conducted an 8-week randomized controlled trial that included 215 patients (between the ages of 20-64) who exhibited symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress.
Participants were randomly assigned to either the group mindfulness treatment or the individual CBT treatment and attended weekly sessions.
Both before and after the trial, participants self-reported their symptoms using the Patient Health Questionnaire, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale.
It came as a surprise to the researchers when, at the end of the trial, both groups reported a significant decrease in symptoms.
And while there weren’t any significant between-group differences, this work does suggest that group mindfulness might be just as useful as individual CBT.
So what could this mean for practitioners?
Well, it might be possible to start considering group mindfulness treatment as a viable alternative to individual therapy.
But we still have to be careful before we assume that this is the way to reach more people just as effectively as one-on-one practice. I also would be interested in a 12 month follow-up.
However, when taken as a whole, the benefits here are two-fold: patients can take advantage of (more affordable) group sessions, and practitioners can make more of an impact by treating groups rather than only doing individual therapy.
If you’d like to find out more, this new study was published on November 27, 2014 and is available online through The British Journal of Psychiatry.
But for now, which patients have you seen respond to mindfulness therapy? If you have used it, do you conduct group sessions as well? Please let me know by commenting below.