The MBSR method (also known as Mindful-Based Stress Reduction) is an established concept for stress management and mindfulness training. The treatment method, which originated in the USA, was originally used for chronic pain patients, but soon spread to the field of stress and strain management. „MSBR“ is therefore now mainly used in clinics as well as in health centers.
Very roughly speaking, „MSBR“ is an eight-week stress management training program. It offers effective tools for stress reduction and individual stress prevention. Stress, pain as well as mental strain are equally eligible for this. Since the „MSBR“ method is still comparatively unknown in this country, it will be presented comprehensively in the following article. The main areas of application will also be shown and a critical examination will be made.
Definition of „MBSR“
„Mindful-Based Stress Reduction“ refers to a special treatment method in which stress-related behavior patterns in everyday situations are recognized or challenged. In this way, a more conscious and better way of dealing with stress is to be developed. The therapy with „MSBR“ is based on an inpatient or outpatient treatment of at least 8 weeks duration, which is carried out by experienced psychotherapists.
Since the „MBSR“ method is a recognized prevention program in Germany, it is covered or subsidized by the statutory health insurance funds. Certified „MBSR“ courses are covered insofar as there is a medical indication for them.
Where does Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction come from?
The „Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction“ method was developed as early as 1979 by U.S. professor Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. At that time, Kabat-Zinn and his team at the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester, USA, were working on a new concept for the treatment of chronic pain patients (who suffered from permanent stress). However, it quickly became apparent that the newly discovered method could also be used for other types of stress. For example, burnout patients or anxiety patients could also be helped with the „MBSR“ method. A little later Kabat-Zinn applied for a patent for his „MBSR“ method, which from then on became an integral part of (US) psychotherapies. Only in recent years has this method gradually spread to Germany.
How does Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction work?
In the context of an „MBSR“ treatment, the following points are worked through within an eight-week program:
1. mindfulness training (through regular mindfulness practice, patients learn to live in and appreciate the here and now).
2. developing stress awareness (various mindfulness exercises are designed to ensure that stress- or anxiety-inducing thoughts as well as reactions are recognized)
3. acceptance training (stressful situations are to be accepted from now on instead of fighting them)
4. stress management (developing constructive strategies for coping with stress)
5. everyday life training (the techniques learned are not only applied in the course hours, but also in everyday life)
6. group dynamics (exchange of experiences with other participants promotes individual understanding)
Where is „MBSR“ used everywhere?
The „MBSR“ method has now established itself as a proven tool in the following areas:
- Stress management
- Mindfulness training
- Burnout therapy
The above mentioned areas of application of the „MBSR“ method will now be shown in more detail in the following subsections.
The „MBSR“ method has proven to be an extremely effective tool for stress management. People who suffer from high levels of professional or personal stress find in „MBSR“ a structured and proven approach. Accordingly, the eight-week program makes it possible to recognize the causes of stress, deal with them and develop helpful coping strategies. By recognizing and accepting stress-related behavior patterns, participants can ultimately develop a healthier approach to stress and build long-term resilience.
The „MBSR“ method is also a good tool in the area of mindfulness training. It teaches participants to live mindfully in the present moment and sharpen their senses. Through regular practice of formal and informal mindfulness exercises, people can integrate mindfulness into their individual daily lives. By becoming more aware of thoughts and feelings in this way, a deeper understanding of one’s self is created.
Last but not least, „MBSR“ is also used in the field of burnout therapy. Here, too, the cause of burnout (which is usually based on chronic stress) can be identified and managed. „MBSR“ promotes self-care and awareness of one’s own limits, which can be invaluable in burnout therapy. By regularly practicing mindfulness and stress management techniques, sufferers can also slowly find their way to recovery from burnout.
By which groups of people is „MBSR“ preferred?
„Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction“ can prove enormously beneficial for the following groups of people:
- Individuals with chronic illnesses
- Stress-ridden professionals
- Patients at risk of burnout
- Persons in search of more mindfulness
The „MBSR“ method is also used by psychotherapists as well as psychotherapy clinics and specialized health centers.
Critical examination of the „MBSR“ method
Despite its fairly widespread use and its positive results, the „MBSR“ method repeatedly becomes the focus of criticism. It is often criticized that „MBSR“ is too strongly individualized and neglects the social context. Others criticize that the effectiveness of „MBSR“ has never been clearly proven in scientific studies. It is also pointed out that „MBSR“ is not suitable for everyone and may not be recommended for certain mental health problems or personality types. Last but not least, the eight-week duration and the extensive treatment requirements are criticized, which are often difficult to integrate into individual daily life.
Conclusion on „MBSR“ and naming of similar methodologies
In summary, „Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction“ can be described as a concept from psychotherapy, which was developed as early as 1979 by U.S. professor Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn for the original treatment of chronic pain patients. Over time, however, this method also became established for general stress management and stress prevention as well as mindfulness training.
The „MBSR“ method is closely related to „Cognitive Behavioral Therapy“ and „Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy,“ among others. While „Cognitive Behavioral Therapy“ aims at identifying and changing destructive thought patterns and behaviors, „Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy“ was specifically developed for relapse prevention in depression, but can also be used for stress management.