A new article in the LA Times puts forth the case for mindfulness as a psychological intervention with staying power.
“Mindfulness has become a buzzword, especially with younger therapists,” said Stefan Hofmann, a professor of psychology at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders.
Mindfulness therapy encourages patients to focus on their breathing and their body, to notice but not judge their thoughts and to generally live in the moment. It may sound a bit squishy and New Agey to some, but Hofmann and other experts say mindfulness has something that discredited theories of the past never had: solid evidence that it can help.
“I was skeptical at first.” Hofmann said. “I wondered, ‘Why on Earth should this work?’ But it seems to work quite well.”
Hofmann and colleagues burnished the scientific credentials of mindfulness therapy with a review article in the April issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. After combining results of 39 previous studies involving 1,140 patients, the researchers concluded that mindfulness therapy was effective for relieving anxiety and improving mood.
The treatment seemed to help ease the mental stress of people recovering from cancer and other serious illnesses, but it had the strongest benefits for people diagnosed with mood disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and recurring depression.