Mindfulness and Psychological Science

Lecturer: Emeritus Professor Mark Williams, University of Oxford

Emeritus Professor Mark Williams

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed by Zindel Segal, John Teasdale and Mark Williams based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness-based stress reduction programme for chronic pain. Their aim was to apply Kabat-Zinn’s insights from a physical health setting to mental health; to find a cost-effective approach to preventing new episodes of depression for people who were highly vulnerable to experience repeated episodes. 

One in five people suffer serious depression during the course of their lives, and repeated episodes can cause depression to become more ‘autonomous’ i.e. it requires smaller and smaller amounts of stress to trigger another episode. Although first developed for depression, MBCT is now being used to help people with health anxiety, and those who have been through a crisis in which they felt suicidal and/or attempted suicide.

This lecture asks how mindfulness-based approaches fit with basic psychological science over the last 50 years.  In particular, we will consider four areas of cognitive science that mindfulness addresses: the costs of dividing attention, how the mind affects the body (and vice versa), how we succeed or fail to remember to do things we plan to do, and the effects on the mind of trying to prevent unpleasant experience.

About the lecturer

Mark Williams is Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Oxford, having retired in 2013 as Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. His research has been concerned with psychological models and treatment of depression and suicidal behaviour, particularly the application of experimental cognitive psychology to understanding the processes that increase risk of suicidal behaviour in depression.

With colleagues John Teasdale (Cambridge) and Zindel Segal (Toronto) he developed Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for prevention of relapse and recurrence in depression, and research has now found that MBCT markedly reduces the rate of future depression in those who have suffered the most serious and persistent forms of major depression and is as effective as antidepressants.

His books include Cry of Pain: understanding suicide and self harm (Penguin, 1997, 2002, Piatkus, 2014), with Z. Segal and J.D. Teasdale Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A new approach to preventing relapse (Guilford, 2013) and The Mindful Way Workbook (Guilford, 2013) and Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World (London, Piatkus, 2011, co-authored with Danny Penman).

The seminar is open to all interested parties. Welcome!


Please register your attendance by January 18h!


Published Jan. 3, 2018 11:14 AM - Last modified Jan. 3, 2018 11:15 AM