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What Is Mindfulness Therapy and How Is it Applied to Teenagers?

Mindfulness therapy

Adolescence is difficult for anyone, but it’s especially challenging for teens with mental health disorders. When teens lack adequate coping mechanisms, they are more likely to experience negative consequences, including academic and social difficulties.

As a parent, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of mental illness in adolescents to get your child the help they need. A cognitive-behavioral therapy program can help teens overcome challenges in a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment. At Imagine Nampa, we provide comprehensive mental health and co-occurring disorders treatment to teens ages 12-17 and their families as they work toward recovery. Learn more about our full-day outpatient programs for adolescents by connecting with our team at 888.503.4604.

What Is Mindfulness?

Being mindful means slowing down and being present in the moment. In mindfulness therapy, teens learn to accept each moment and feeling as it comes without judgment or reaction. Awareness of feelings without judgment is the first step toward developing emotional regulation and is key to managing the symptoms of mental health disorders.

6 Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Techniques

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that incorporates mindfulness principles and meditation practices. The guiding principle of CBT is that thoughts influence feelings, which influence behavior. It aims to change behavior by first changing thoughts. The ultimate goal of CBT is to replace unhealthy thoughts with more positive and productive ones.

MBCT builds on the principles of CBT by using techniques that enable teens to notice and acknowledge their thoughts so they can choose to relate to them differently, ultimately changing behavior. Methods of MBCT include:

1. Meditation

Meditation is a practice that teaches teens to work on focusing their minds and thoughts so they can gain greater awareness and inner calm. Guided meditation helps teens learn the method so they may ultimately practice self-guided meditation.

2. Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness can be practiced during meditation. It is the process of becoming aware of what is happening in the present moment, acknowledging negative thoughts or feelings, and letting them pass through the mind without judgment.

3. Mindfulness Stretching

This technique involves stretching mindfully to bring awareness to the body and mind and the connection between the two.

4. Yoga

MBCT can utilize yoga poses to help facilitate mindfulness stretching. Many poses help open the chest to incorporate mindful breathing.

5. Body Scan Exercise

Body scan exercise begins with lying down and focusing on the breath. Teens then bring their awareness to different body parts, usually starting with the toes and working to the top of the head, noting how each part feels and any associated sensations. 6.

6. 3-Minute Breathing Space

This breathing activity focuses on three one-minute-long steps: observing the experience, focusing on the breath, and attending to the body and any physical sensations.

How Can Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Help Teens?

MBCT was initially developed to treat depression and, specifically, to prevent relapse in individuals who experience recurring depression, defined as three or more episodes. MBCT can also be used to treat other mental health disorders, including:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • General emotional distress
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression associated with medical illnesses

In MBCT, teens learn mindfulness practices and tools to help them be mindful in everyday activities. When these skills are mastered, therapists can begin to guide them through practicing mindfulness when complex thoughts or feelings arise. For many teens, small triggers can spark a downward spiral that results in a relapse of depression. MBCT gives them the tools to recognize and manage triggers to prevent a relapse.

Contact Imagine Nampa for Mindfulness-Based Therapy

Teens today are experiencing high levels of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, self-harm, and co-occurring disorders. Because they often lack insight into their thoughts and feelings, many teens demonstrate the need for treatment through inappropriate behavior.

At Imagine Nampa, we understand the benefits of mindfulness-based therapy for teens. If your teen is struggling, reach out to our team for help. Call us today at 888.503.4604 to learn about treatment options for your teen.