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Mindfulness Meditation Presented

The National Conference on Therapeutic Communities provided the opportunity for Rod Mullen, President and CEO of Amity Foundation, and Mary Stanton, Senior Counselor to present their groundbreaking work on the implementation of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in the Teaching and Therapeutic Community.

Their paper, Hybrid Vigor: Integration of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) into the Therapeutic Community illustrates how this recently developed treatment for the prevention of recurrent major depression may be integrated in the TC to meet the needs of specialized populations while the basic tenet of “Community as Method” remains the essence of the healing process. Amity Foundation believes this type of integrative approach is necessary as individuals unravel the complex knots that addictions and trauma create.
Training in mindfulness helps individuals develop the skill to “turn toward” rather than “turn away from” emotional or physical pain, trauma, or other areas of difficulty. Mindfulness-based practices are at the heart of some revolutionary work in the therapy of adult sufferers of a variety of physical and psychological disorders. MBCT has shown efficacy in reducing anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and promising outcomes in treatment for individuals who have experienced traumatic events and are exhibiting post-traumatic stress disorder.
Amity Foundation’s Circle Tree Ranch Teaching and Therapeutic Community in Tucson, Arizona began conducting courses in MBCT in March 2008. While maintaining fidelity to the content and core aims of the course as outlined in the book, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression (Z. V. Segal, J. M. G. Williams, & J. Teasdale, 2002), modifications were made to deliver the material over a shorter period of time, allowing participants to complete the course and develop a personal practice while in residence at Amity’s Circle Tree Ranch. In a residential setting, longer sessions are possible which create opportunities for additional mindfulness exercises including mindful movement/yoga, mindful eating in silence, more process time following guided meditations, and longer sessions for the articulation of experiences during the daily practice review.
Modifications also allow for the practice of mindfulness skills in a variety of settings including local parks and nearby mountains as well as in a Native American Sweat Lodge Ceremony at Amity’s Circle Tree Ranch. Our initial findings indicate that the integration of Mindfulness-based meditation practices enhances all aspects of the TC experience thus improving outcomes, particularly for dually diagnosed participants.
Amity Foundation recognizes that hopelessness and despair are often the tragic legacies of trauma and addiction, and modifications to traditional confrontational approaches may be necessary for persons with mental health issues. For individuals tortured by negative or destructive thought patterns, MBCT is proposed as an innovative and effective strategy within the Therapeutic Community modality for re-scripting powerful internal messages. Amity’s long term goal is to create a “culture of mindfulness” within our Teaching and Therapeutic Community, enhancing our long established tradition of “Remembrance, Resolution, Reconciliation, Restoration, and Renewal”.