Cognitive-Behavioral TherapyReligion/ Spirituality

Prayer as an alternative to mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

Joshua Knabb at Philhaven Hospital, in Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania tells us centering prayer overlaps with mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which makes it a suitable treatment alternative for many Christians in remission from depression.

Here’s his rationale.

  • Based on Buddhist teachings…
    • Mindfulness offers the ability to decenter from thoughts and live in the present moment.
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy…
    • Teaches decentering and mindfulness techniques to adults to reduce the likelihood of depression relapse.
  • Some Christians…
    • Prefer to turn to their own religious heritage, rather than Buddhist tradition, in order to stave off depression relapse.

The bottom line?

Accordingly, Mr. Knabb believes that centering prayer may be used as an alternative treatment for preventing depression relapse in adults.

Mr. Knabb follows the postulates of Heinz Kohut, related to a psychoanalytic approach, which is at odds with cognitive behavioral therapy as a form a psychological counseling. It can’t be known for sure, but it’s possible that his recommendation is less a boost for religion than a back handed criticism of behavioral therapy. It’s not, to my knowledge, based on the results of a clinical study.

10/7/10 21:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.