“Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Insomnia”

By James K Luiselli EdD ABPP BCBA-D
January 1st, 2017

“Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Insomnia”

By Jason C. Ong

American Psychological Association

Washington, D.C., 2017


Prevalence of insomnia makes book a valuable resource


Reviewed by James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D

Interest in mindfulness and mindfulness-based practices have increased in recent years. Some of the earliest mindfulness applications, with good evidence support, are mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

Mindfulness is also an active component of third generation cognitive-behavioral treatment such as dialectical behavior therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy.

This book describes the principles and procedures of a new treatment program called mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia. Psychologist Jason C. Ong defines the foundation of MBTI as mindfulness meditation: “a form of Buddhist meditation that focuses on present-moment awareness as a means to see with discernment, cultivate self-compassion and relieve one’s suffering.”

Elements of MBTI are also consistent with Jon Kabat-Zinn’s seminal definition of mindfulness as paying attention purposefully, with an open mind, and nonjudgmentally. The common mindfulness techniques of body scan, walking meditation and movement exercises are fully incorporated too.

The basis of MBTI is an eight-session group intervention, each session approximately 2.5 hours in duration, with emphasis on formal meditations, discussion, and insomnia-related activities and instructions.

Mindfulness principles and practices are integrated within all of the sessions, in addition to home meditations and an optional meditation retreat in between the later sessions.

Ong wrote the book for clinicians and trainees from the disciplines of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, social work and nursing. His book is further “intended for teachers of mindfulness-based therapies who have appropriate credentials for working with clinical populations and are interested in expanding their work to people who have insomnia.”

The first part of the book gives readers an overview of insomnia, sleep architecture and physiology and current pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. Ong then introduces the basics of mindfulness, culled from eastern traditions, and transformed into particular therapies in western cultures.

Part two of the book amplifies the theory behind MBTI and presents session-by-session content. Preceding the session descriptions, Ong offers useful advice about personal training for delivering MBTI, selecting patients and acquiring materials-resources. The details of each session include implementation checklists, a sleep diary form, patient handouts and other tools.

In the third part of the book, Ong covers the empirical evidence for using mindfulness in treating insomnia and research-to-practice translation by clinicians. Although preliminary, the research support for MBTI is emerging, in Ong’s words, “with increasing evidence to support the efficacy of mindfulness meditation as a viable treatment for chronic insomnia.”

With regard to delivering MBTI in conventional clinical and medical settings, the book looks carefully at patient characteristics that seem to predict success, the professional competencies needed to provide MBTI effectively and the challenge of fitting mindfulness-based therapies within the health care system. Ong gives several cogent recommendations for each of these areas.

The high prevalence of insomnia and sleep-related disturbances in the general population make this book a valuable resource for treating professionals. The MBTI approach encompasses some conventional cognitive-behavioral methods but readers familiar with and practicing mindfulness-based interventions will benefit most.

Beyond practical application, the book advances the study of MBTI by researchers and scientist-practitioners. On this note, Ong suggests convincingly that “the contents of the book will stimulate clinical researchers to consider new ways to improve MBTI, to study the treatment mechanisms, and to investigate other populations that could benefit from this treatment approach.”

James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D, is Chief Clinical Officer, Clinical Solutions, Inc. and North East Educational and Developmental Support Center, Tewksbury, Mass..

Learn more about the book: Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Insomnia

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