What is Mindfulness and Why Is It Offered as Treatment?
Mindfulness, defined as present moment awareness without judgment, became an adjunct to traditional cognitive behavioral therapy as part of CBT’s third wave. Mindfulness practices have been shown to be incredibly useful when treating a variety of mental and physical health issues, and this is certainly the case with OCD, OC spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, and body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). Mindfulness training teaches clients to build awareness of their symptoms and to respond to them less reactively. As clients engage in mindfulness skills, they learn to focus on the present moment, rather than focus on their distress and anxiety about the past or the future. Mindfulness practices helps clients learn to allow uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and sensations to naturally pass, rather than trying to change them or get rid of them. Attempts to change or push away anxiety-provoking thoughts and the feelings and sensations that accompany those thoughts only serves to ingrain those thoughts, even if one is able to get rid of them temporarily. Mindfulness skills also help clients to be less judgmental of their experience and of themselves, while increasing self-compassion and distress tolerance.
Can Children and Adolescents with OCD, Anxiety, and Related Disorders Engage in Mindfulness?
Mindfulness skills and practices are simple for children and adolescents to learn and to practice. In fact, even young children can be taught to be more mindful. Think of mindfulness practices as tools to improve mind hygiene. Children are trained by their parents to engage in simple daily tasks, such as washing their hands and brushing their teeth, in order to keep their body healthy. We train our child and adolescent clients to engage in simple mindfulness tasks, in order to keep their mind healthy. Learning to incorporate mindfulness skills into daily living at a young age offers many benefits. Research on mindfulness shows those benefits to include improved concentration, reduced stress, depression, and anxiety, stronger immune systems, and much more. Mindfulness is an integral part of treatment at the Children’s OCD & Anxiety Collective, regardless of the age of the client or their symptoms. Each client is unique, so we offer a variety of mindfulness tools to every client and, through therapeutic collaboration, the tools that work for individual clients are incorporated into their treatment plans.