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The Differences Between MBCT and CBT

The Differences Between MBCT and CBT

Addiction is a multifaceted challenge and getting sober goes well beyond detox.

Therapy is needed to help patients build a tool kit for lasting sobriety, one where they can resist relapse and stay on track for lifelong sobriety. But issues like depression, anxiety, cravings, and post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms can make it difficult for someone to stay on track. Therapies for addiction treatment like MBCT and CBT can be effective in helping patients treat depression, anxiety, cravings, and more.

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT, which stands for cognitive behavioral therapy, is a time-tested approach to therapy for a variety of challenges. In CBT, patients sit with a therapist one on one for a psychotherapeutic treatment in which maladaptive behaviors are recognized as results of certain thought patterns. Patients in traditional CBT are encouraged to examine their negative thoughts and pair those thoughts against reality to better recognize harmful thought patterns that are simply unfounded in reality. Healthier thinking patterns more readily emerge once patients recognize the unrealistic nature of many of their negative thoughts. 1

What Is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive therapy?

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, known as MBCT, is a newer form of CBT that also incorporates meditation, breathing exercises, and other elements of mindfulness into therapy. 2 MBCT may be practiced in a group therapy setting, but it has the same aim as traditional CBT of helping patients gain better control over their thoughts and emotions in the pursuit of better physical responses to these factors. Many patients choose MBCT for anxiety treatment.

The Differences Between MBCT and CBT

So, what are the big differences between MBCT and CBT? The biggest difference is the inclusion of the mindfulness element to MBCT. Both therapies are more similar than different, working to help patients better control their thoughts and emotions and thus their responses to them. The mindfulness elements of MBCT, including breathing and meditation exercises, rebalance networks within the brain to help patients better control responses to negative thoughts or emotions. 2

Both MBCT and CBT work to help patients better control their thoughts, emotions, and responses to these factors. But MBCT differs from CBT by incorporating elements of mindfulness to additionally control the body’s automatic responses to the stresses associated with many negative thoughts or feelings. Both approaches to mental health and addiction treatment therapy have been proven effective for helping patients.3

Contact us today to learn more about CBT, MBCT, and other therapies offered at our IOP program around Boston. Call 888-280-4763 to get started.


  1. Cognitive Therapy and Research - The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses
  2. Psychology Today - Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
  3. Science Direct - Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy vs cognitive behaviour therapy as a treatment for non-melancholic depression
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.