Group therapy can be a very powerful and effective way to deliver evidence-based treatment. Group therapy has been established as effective treatment for most common problems, including depression, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Group therapy can be as effective as individual therapy and some people prefer it. The benefits of group therapy include the ability to experience the support, encouragement and understanding of other people who are overcoming similar problems as well as a somewhat reduced cost.
At CBT Associates, we currently offer a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Depression Group and we have a number of other groups in development, including ongoing maintenance and support groups for people who have successfully completed individual treatment for OCD and social anxiety disorder.
Q&A with Dr. Lance Hawley about our MBCT Course:
Dr. Lance Hawley is a clinical psychologist who offers Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (MBCT) group treatment at CBT Associates. He is the co-director of training at Sunnybrook Hospital, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, and associate graduate faculty with the University of Toronto, Scarborough.
What is your personal relationship to or connection with mindfulness?
I first became aware of the principles of mindfulness when working with Dr. Zindel Segal, during the time when he was developing the Mindfulness-Based CBT program that is currently being used in health centers around the world. I have collaborated with Dr. Segal and other clinical researchers who are interested in studying this treatment approach in order to better understand factors that improve treatment response. I have been involved with mindfulness concepts in various ways – I have provided clinical treatment services, I have trained other professionals, and I have been involved in numerous research projects. Over the years, I have grown to appreciate how important mindfulness principles are in terms of my daily experience, both personally and professionally. I offer clinical services using other empirically validated approaches, but I often find that utilizing a mindfulness approach in my clinical work is both effective and highly rewarding, in terms of having the opportunity to collaborate with clients to promote their ability to transform their lives.
What are your clinical interests?
I value the opportunity to collaborate with individuals who are interested in developing mindfulness skills in order to cope with the daily challenges that we all face. Given the feedback we have received, our MBCT group therapy program has been received well. I believe that our group is unique – we designed this course in order to be responsive to changing consumer needs. For example, considering the typical cost of individual therapy, we have developed this course in order to offer an affordable and accessible group option. We’ve also had clients who are receiving individual CBT treatment attend the group in order to receive additional support. It’s noteworthy that we decided to limit the group to a small number of participants in order to make sure that everyone receives individualized attention while having a chance to participate at whatever level they feel comfortable with. So far, the feedback we’ve received about our unique program design has been quite positive.
What are your research interests?
I have been involved in clinical research projects that involve understanding how individuals can benefit from mindfulness treatment, and I have published several peer-reviewed articles in this area. I have offered presentations and workshops at professional conferences, and it seems to me that number of individuals who are invested in these concepts are growing on a daily basis. There is quite a substantial research literature that indicates that MBCT group therapy can be helpful for individuals experiencing depression and anxiety issues currently, and it’s really the “gold star” treatment in terms of promoting longer term wellness and preventing future relapse. In particular, several studies suggest that the longer term effects of mindfulness are equivalent or in some cases, superior, to medication alone.
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