How Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Can Help Teens Heal


Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a therapeutic approach that combines the principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) with mindfulness meditation practices. MBCT has been shown to be an effective therapeutic intervention for a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

What Is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy that combines cognitive therapy, meditation, and the development of mindfulness – a present-oriented, non-judgmental outlook. Mindfulness therapy has recently become of particular interest to the medical community, contributing to the development of a number of innovative approaches to mental health care. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can reduce the risk of relapse in recurrent major depressive disorder, also called recurrent depression. In order to understand the approach of MBCT, it helps to know the foundation that it was built on.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy from the cognitive model, which states that thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are interrelated. The premise of cognitive therapy is that individuals can work towards overcoming their challenges and achieving their goals by identifying and changing negative, inaccurate, or unhelpful thought patterns, behaviours, and emotional responses. In cognitive therapy, individuals collaborate with their therapist to develop skills for examining and modifying their beliefs, identifying and challenging distorted thinking, improving interpersonal relationships, and adopting more adaptive behaviours. By learning to modify their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, people can enhance their overall well-being and improve their ability to navigate life’s challenges. Cognitive therapy helps individuals learn and practice skills independently, eventually becoming their own therapists.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a form of mental training that helps individuals to quiet their minds, release negativity, and find a sense of inner calm. Mindfulness meditative practices involve a combination of meditation techniques and the practice of mindfulness, which involves focusing attention on the present moment and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations without negative judgement.

The specific techniques used in mindfulness meditation can vary but typically involve deep breathing exercises and a focus on bodily sensations and mental awareness. By cultivating mindfulness and a deep awareness of the present moment, individuals can learn to manage stress, reduce anxiety and depression, and find greater peace and clarity in their daily lives. Through consistent practice, you can develop a more positive relationship with yourself and the world around you.

How Does an MBCT Program Work?

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) shares similarities with cognitive therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). MBCT operates with the understanding that if you have a history of depression, you are more likely to revert to automatic negative cognitive patterns that triggered depressive episodes in the past when you experience distress. Combining mindfulness techniques with cognitive therapy can help people to recognise the way they are feeling and then interrupt automatic thought processes, making MBCT highly effective in treating recurrent depression and preventing depressive relapse.

One of the key benefits of MBCT is that it helps individuals to observe and identify their emotions in the present moment without judgement. This awareness of emotions is an essential component of mindfulness practices, and it can help individuals to avoid getting caught up in negative thought patterns that can lead to active depression. Additionally, cognitive therapy techniques used in MBCT can help individuals to interrupt automatic thought processes and work through their feelings in a more constructive way.

Overall, MBCT is a promising approach to treating depression, especially for individuals who have experienced multiple episodes of depression in the past. By combining mindfulness and cognitive therapy, MBCT can provide individuals with the skills and tools they need to manage their emotions, recognise depressive symptoms, prevent relapse, and achieve long-lasting well-being.

How Can MBCT Help Young People Heal?

An MBCT programme can help teens and young adults cultivate mindfulness so they can learn to recognise negative emotions and incorporate MBCT techniques into their lives. MBCT therapy sessions help people to reconstruct unhelpful thought patterns that are causing problems in their everyday life.

Develops Awareness

Mindfulness meditation practices can help teens develop an awareness of their negative thoughts and feelings. This can help them identify negative thought patterns and behaviours that may be contributing to their mental health condition.

Encourages Non-judgemental Acceptance

MBCT encourages individuals to accept their thoughts and feelings without judgement. This can help teens develop a more compassionate and accepting attitude towards themselves, which can be particularly helpful in managing conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Teaches Coping Skills

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy teaches teens coping skills that can be used to manage stress and difficult emotions. These skills can include relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and cognitive restructuring.

Enhances Emotional Regulation

Mindfulness meditation practices can help teens regulate their emotions more effectively. By developing the ability to observe their emotions without judgement, teens can learn to respond to difficult situations in a more calm and rational way. Mindfulness-based stress reduction can be particularly helpful for teens struggling to regulate their emotions or manage their stress.

Improves Overall Well-being

MBCT has been shown to improve overall well-being, including physical health, emotional health, and social functioning. This can be particularly helpful for teens who may be struggling with a range of issues related to their mental health condition.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can be a helpful approach for teens who are struggling with mental health conditions. By developing awareness, acceptance, coping skills, emotional regulation, and overall well-being, MBCT can help teens heal and manage their condition in a more effective way.


Yoga poses are also sometimes included in a mindfulness course and are seen as a great form of mindfulness-based stress reduction. Although mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) courses can vary, those that feature yoga can facilitate mindful stretching, allowing individuals to take notice of the sensations and movements of the body, as movement is connected with the breath. For some people, negative thoughts or feelings can manifest as physical symptoms and sensations before negative thoughts or depression, so yoga can help people build the mind-body connection that helps them bring awareness to these sensations in a mindful way. MBCT courses encourage bringing awareness to these feelings without judgement and then working to disrupt the automatic processes that can trigger depressive symptoms.

Treatment at The Wave Clinic

At The Wave Clinic, we specialise in supporting teenagers and young adults, offering a wide range of treatment approaches, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Incorporating regular mindfulness practices into each young person’s individualised treatment plan strengthens relapse prevention strategies for long-term recovery. Our expert team of mental health professionals trained in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy are here to help you and your loved ones regain control over your mental health and develop skills for a life free from depression. Offering teenagers the opportunities to gain new tools, we help them learn valuable skills and build internal and external resources, including developing resilience, learning emotion regulation and mindfulness.

During your time at The Wave Clinic, we help you build a bank of tools and skills that improve your understanding of yourself and others, and also greatly improve your chances for success post-treatment.

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

More from Fiona Yassin
A boy sitting at the front in a hall of empty desks, with his head on his arm.

What Happens When Kids Are Left Out of School?

Social exclusion and peer rejection can have serious consequences for young people’s mental health, leading to emotional and behavioural problems and low self-esteem. Social exclusion that is based on prejudice or bias is particularly damaging.

Read More »

Professional associations and memberships

We are here to help

Have any questions or want to get started with the admissions process? Fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    London, United Kingdom