Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A literature review

Carolina Wagner, Rocío Cáceres-Melillo

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17711/SM.0185-3325.2023.005


Background. Previous reviews have concluded that whilst mindfulness-based interventions reduce PTSD symptoms through fear extinction and cognitive restructuring, further research is needed.

Objective. The aim of this report is to systematically review existing literature about the association between standardized mindfulness-based interventions and PTSD with the aim of identifying implications for practice and recommendations for future research.

Method. The CINAHL Complete, PsycINFO, Medline, and PsycArticles databases were searched, looking for full-text articles from 2018 up to march 2022.

Results. There was a significant improvement in PTSD symptoms in MBCT participants, even if some experienced a high increase at baseline. MBSR participants with moderate to severe trauma symptoms showed a greater reduction in symptoms whereas mild trauma symptoms at baseline showed slightly higher symptomatology at the end of treatment.

Discussion and conclusion. From the results, MBCT, MBSR, and their variations seem to tackle different domains of the diagnosis. Whilst MBSR is associated with improvements in terms of attentional difficulties, MBCT facilitates the connection between dysfunctional cognitive concepts and avoidant behaviours that maintain the symptomatology. Nevertheless, the active components of MBCT or MBSR that have an impact on symptom reduction are undetermined. Future studies will be enhanced by monitoring the change in underlying mechanisms attached to the practice of mindfulness through outcome measurements, among other considerations.


MBCT; MBSR; mindfulness; PTSD

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