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Zindel Segal is a highly regarded clinical psychiatrist whose main area of focus is the prevention and treatment of depression. His years of research led him to develop Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) with Mark Williams and John Teasdale. Segal works at the University of Toronto as a professor of psychiatry, where he helps patients overcome the debilitating sadness that often accompanies depression. Segal is also the Head of the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Clinic of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Segal began to develop MBCT while examining the relationship between a person’s self-image and their depressive symptoms. Peers asked Segal to create a form of cognitive therapy that could be used as a maintenance protocol in order to prevent relapse after a major depressive episode. Segal’s work has enabled clinicians to identify specific markers that indicate those people who are likely to have a depressive relapse. Segal has been recognized for his achievements and has received the Hope Award from the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, as well as the Douglas Utting Prize for his work and insight into treatment for depression.
Contribution to Psychology
Segal is one of the developers of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT integrates mindfulness and traditional cognitive therapy with elements of Buddhism. The basis of this form of therapy is a nonjudgmental platform in which a client can understand and accept their emotions and thoughts, rather than being forced or encouraged to dispel them. MBCT’s goal is to release a client from the reactive process of being inundated by negative feelings and thoughts. Clients participate in classes for eight weeks, and are taught the skills necessary to gain better awareness into their responses to feelings in order to be able to transform the way they react to their emotions and thoughts. By using mindfulness, clients learn that some of their thoughts are counter-productive and should not be held on to. All of this insight is performed without judgment but with complete awareness and purpose. MBCT is recognized as a highly effective therapeutic tool for the treatment and prevention of major depressive episodes.