Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why Mindfulness May Enhance Exposure Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

I realize I’ve been neglecting Scientific Mindfulness of late. It’s not that I’ve stopped blogging. Instead, I’ve shifted my focus to two other blogs: The Art and Science of Living Well and Science-Based Psychotherapy. Recently, I came across an article that bridges SM and Science-Based Psychotherapy.

University of Massachusetts’ Michael Treanor, who is a grad student I think, published a review of the overlap between mindfulness and exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a topic I have a particular interest in, and I think there’s great potential for ways in which mindfulness can enhance exposure-based interventions.

Treanor’s article is pretty technical, and there’s no way I could offer a basic summary. However, it’s a very important article, in that it examines how mindfulness may be used to improve exposure-based treatments for anxiety disorders. For example, mindfulness may help develop awareness of multiple cues, both internal (e.g., bodily sensation) and external (e.g., situations, places), which may help with generalizing exposure treatments. The effectiveness of exposure-based treatments has plateaued in recent years; although it’s not certain mindfulness may change that, it does offer one avenue for exploration.

As I mentioned, this article is not for the faint of heart. However, I encourage you check it out if you’re interested. It could help to jump start several labs.

Treanor, M. (2011). The Potential Impact of Mindfulness on Exposure and Extinction Learning in Anxiety Disorder. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 617-625.