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Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in obsessive-compulsive disorder – A qualitative study on patients’ experiences

Elisabeth Hertenstein1*, Nina Rose1, Ulrich Voderholzer2, Thomas Heidenreich3, Christoph Nissen1, Nicola Thiel1, Nirmal Herbst1 and Anne Katrin Külz1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Freiburg, Hauptstraße 5, Freiburg, 79104, Germany

2 Schön Klinik Roseneck, Prien, Germany

3 Esslingen University of Applied Sciences, Esslingen, Germany

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:185  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-185

Published: 31 October 2012



Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with exposure and response prevention (ERP) is the first-line treatment for patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, not all of them achieve remission on a longterm basis. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) represents a new 8-week group therapy program whose effectiveness has been demonstrated in various mental disorders, but has not yet been applied to patients with OCD.

The present pilot study aimed to qualitatively assess the subjective experiences of patients with OCD who participated in MBCT.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 patients suffering from OCD directly after 8 sessions of a weekly MBCT group program. Data were analyzed using a qualitative content analysis.


Participants valued the treatment as helpful in dealing with their OCD and OCD-related problems. Two thirds of the patients reported a decline in OCD symptoms. Benefits included an increased ability to let unpleasant emotions surface and to live more consciously in the present. However, participants also discussed several problems.


The data provide preliminary evidence that patients with OCD find aspects of the current MBCT protocol acceptable and beneficial. The authors suggest to further explore MBCT as a complementary treatment strategy for OCD.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder; Mindfulness; MBCT; Complementary treatment; Qualitative content analysis; Subjective experience