You Gotta Have Heart

You Gotta Have Heart

By Christopher Germer

January/February 2006

Mindfulness has become one of the hottest growth areas in the field of psychotherapy in the past few years. It's a surprising hit even among cognitive-behavior therapists, whom nobody would ever accuse of being frothy-brained New Agers. Our scientific colleagues, such as Steven Hayes, regard "mindfulness and acceptance-based therapies" as the "third wave" of empirically based treatments, after behavior therapy and cognitive therapy.

The distinctive focus of the mindfulness-based approach is the intractability of emotions, and the recognition that pushing around difficult feelings often only makes them worse. In contrast, in the spirit of the mantra of the mindfulness approaches—"Change follows acceptance"—they prescribe a combination of awareness and acceptance as the primary intervention.

Several therapy approaches incorporating acceptance have proven to be effective with such difficult-to-treat conditions as the suicidality connected with borderline personality disorder (Dialectical-Behavior Therapy), recurrent depression (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy), psychotic delusions and hallucinations (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), and a host of chronic, mind-body disorders, such fibromyalgia, psoriasis, and chronic pain (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction). Although the techniques used may differ, these programs share common psychological processes, such as…

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