As a counselor the variety of approaches to helping people function and feel better is almost dizzying. This article on GoodTherapy.org lists somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 different types. For someone seeking a therapist, how does a client figure out which approach is best?
The client coming to therapy usually doesn't have a concern about what approach is being used, but she does care about the general philosophy of how an improvement in functioning will take place. For instance, does the therapist believe insight about childhood experiences and their connection to poor current functioning will lead to better functioning? Or, does the therapist believe negative self-talk is the cause? Ultimately, the client wants to feel that he can make improvements through his work with the therapist and is only going to follow that therapist's lead if he believes in that therapist's competency. A certain type of therapy can be nice guidelines for a therapist, but, ultimately, the therapist's ability to connect with the client and effectively convey the principles of change to the client are the more important factors. Most of the therapies out there can be learned about through books, articles, vidoes, etc., but, for many people, the added human touch of a therapist is a key addition that helps the client apply the principles and not give up on that process of change.
(Jon Kabat-Zinn, known for helping to increase the popularity of secular mindfulness in the West, defines mindfulness as "paying attention, in the present moment, non-judgmentally." I'll use that definition.)
Tough not to bump into the term "mindfulness" nowadays especially around those working in mental health or education (and I'm sure many other fields). What is the appeal? One possibility is that mindfulness is a tool for turning off or quieting a bit our internal editors, the voices in our brains that critique, analyze, judge ourselves and others. Those editors serve some good purposes, but they seem to steer toward worry and anxiety, possibly hard wired to do so after billions of years of evolution. In my own mindfulness practice and those of the much more experienced, mindfulness can often be helpful in reducing the power of that voice. If I'm having doubt, I find myself better able to interrupt that thought loop should I decide it makes sense to do so. And, turning off that doubt allows for getting back to the actual experience of life whatever that experience may be in the moment.
Try listening to the experts out there and their explanations of what mindfulness does for them. Some of the experts I've found incredibly insightful:
Dan Harris -https://youtu.be/ywp4vaFJASE
Sam Harris - https://youtu.be/qGIjJ1yohHs
Joseph Goldstein - https://youtu.be/unwBdzxJLUM
Sharon Salzberg - https://youtu.be/LML17BRZppU