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Combining Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy with Safety Planning Intervention to Reduce Suicidal Behavior

meditate photoCan Mindfulness Intervention and Safety Planning be combined using a group therapy environment to treat people with suicidal ideation and behaviors?

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being more in touch with the present moment, bringing one’s attention inward without judgment of current thoughts or experiences. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an intervention that has been shown to reduce depression relapse in individuals who also have suicidal ideations and behaviors.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Safety Planning Intervention (MBCT+SPI) is a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy tailored specifically for managing suicidal ideation and behavior. Both interventions have not been formally developed or used in a group format.

Dr. Megan Chesin’s research aims to explore the practice of mindfulness meditation and cognitive therapy practices in combination with Safety Planning Intervention MBCT+SPI in a group therapy environment for reducing suicidal ideation and behavior.

Dr. Chesin’s study included outpatients who had suicidal ideation, a history of suicide attempt, and those with a method and plan of attempt within the past six months. Suicidal ideation was measured using the Scale for Suicidal Ideation (SSI), and depression with the Beck Depression Inventory-II. The study also assessed level of mindfulness, attention, and cognitive reactivity, i.e. negative patterns of thinking that can quickly be re-triggered.

The results indicated that treatments delivered in a group setting showed promise in increasing feelings of connectedness, due to the added peer support. MBCT+SPI was deemed safe, and depression, hopelessness and suicidal thinking were found to decrease over the course of treatment. Participants gave positive feedback on both the mindfulness training component and the safety planning.

Group Therapy treatments directed at suicidal ideations and behaviors is a novel approach to targeting suicidal ideation and behavior, particularly when there is a greater susceptibility to relapse and recurrence. Advantages of a group format are more cost effectiveness, stigma reduction and greater accessibility.

This study revealed the safe and positive effects of using Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Safety Planning Intervention in a group therapy setting for individuals experiencing suicidal ideation and behavior.

Read more about this study in the Research Connection article on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website. Learn more about Dr. Chesin’s research grant here. Learn about other research funded by AFSP here.

Photo by jenny downing


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