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Monday, July 25, 2016

The Happiness Project Public Forum

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


What can we do as individuals and as a community to bring about positive change in mental health? The forum brings together speakers from the education, sociology, public policy, psychology, philosophy, the arts and community development sectors to investigate what could lead to positive change.

CHAIRPERSON: Dave Noonan Radio presenter on Heart 1073
SPEAKERS: Dr Sonam Thakchoe Senior Philosophy Lecturer UTAS
Dr Bruno Cayoun Clinical Psychologist & principal developer of MiCBT
Deborah Mills Arts & Cultural Policy Advocate
Dr Nicholas Hookway Lecturer in sociology, School of Social Sciences, UTAS
Jami Bladel Artistic Director & CEO of Kickstart Arts
Justin Robinson Director, Institute of Positive Education, Geelong Grammar School

For more info: Phone Kickstart Arts 03 62280611

24 July at 14:00–15:45
Peacock Theatre Salamanca Arts Centre Hobart, Tasmania 7000

MiCBT for Therapists - 2 Hr Workshop

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Short workshop on MiCBT for Therapists this Friday, 8th July, by Dr Bruno Cayoun 

The Australian Psychological Association’s Buddhism and Psychology Interest Group has invited Dr Bruno Cayoun to present a 2-hour workshop this Friday (details below) on the Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (MiCBT) approach for therapists. MiCBT is an evidence-based integration of mindfulness core principles (in the Burmese Vipassana tradition of the S. N. Goenka Lineage) with useful and well-established methods of cognitive and behavioural therapies in the West.

The aim of this short workshop is to introduce the main principles of MiCBT and demonstrate some of its effects in clients with severe conditions. It will also describe the important theoretical framework underlying MiCBT and expand our common understanding of operant conditioning, providing a strong neurobehavioural basis for this approach.

This is a great opportunity to learn from Dr Bruno Cayoun, the principal developer and senior teacher of MiCBT.

This workshop is best suited for trained clinicians and includes didactic teaching and video demonstrations, however students are also welcome.

Learning outcomes

Participants will gain:

  • Skills in case-conceptualising distress as a rationale for using mindfulness practice in therapy

  • An understanding of a mindfulness-based immediate distress-reduction technique

  • An ability to extend current understanding of learning theory, especially operant conditioning

  • Means of self-implementing the four stages of MiCBT and suggestions for future training


Wellspring Centre, Resource Room

10-12 Y Street

Ashburton, VIC 3147


Venue is wheelchair accessible 

8/7/2016   Time: 6-8PM 


BPIG Members: $35
BPIG student members: $25
APS Members (not BPIG): $50
APS students (not BPIG): $40
Non APS members: $60


APS - Buddhism and Psychology Interest Group - National Committee 
The APS Buddhism and Psychology Interest Group was formed to foster an exploration of the therapeutic possibilities that Buddhism offers. Therapists and students working in the counselling field are invited to participate in regular workshops to learn, share and enhance their therapeutic work.

Contact Penny Fenner 
(m) 0411 554 00

2nd International Conference on Mindfulness, Rome.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bruno Cayoun, Alice Shires and Sally Francis travelled to Rome for the 2nd International Conference on Mindfulness (May 11-15, 2016). Bruno and Alice both presented papers on MiCBT and pain. 

Is happiness a state of mind?

Sunday, March 20, 2016


It’s the International Day of Happiness and the Action for Happiness pledge asks us to “try to create more happiness in the world around us." But how do we do that?

The Action for Happiness movement has created a guidebook that details 10 keys to happier living, noting that happiness is generally to do with our attitudes and relationships with other people. The 10 recommendations include:

·      Doing things for others

·      Connecting with people

·      Taking care of your body

·      Living life mindfully

·      Learning new things

·      Having goals to look forward to

·      Finding ways to bounce back

·      Looking for what’s good

·      Being comfortable with who you are, and

·      Being part of something bigger.  

Some of those things sound pretty self explanatory, but what does it mean to live life mindfully? Luckily, we have an expert in mindfulness right on our doorstep.

Dr Bruno Cayoun is a clinical psychologist in private practice, a Research Associate in the School of Nursing at the University of Tasmania, a Research Associate at the School of Psychology at the University of Technology Sydney, Monash University, and Massey University (NZ). He is also the Director of the MiCBT Institute. MiCBT stands for Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. The institute specialises in treatment, training and research.

Dr Cayoun says that mindfulness is a specific way of paying attention, as objectively as possible and free from personal judgements.

“We always make personal judgements,” he said, “our mind is trained to assess phenomena automatically according to our sense of self."

"When we experience a situation inside or outside ourselves, our mind misses most of the sensory aspects of it (seeing, hearing, touching, etc.) because it very quickly makes an evaluation that is mostly about likes and dislikes, according to who we think we are. This includes our needs, personality, culture, social identity and values. If the situation is found to be agreeable, it is neurologically wired (from the medial-prefrontal cortex to the insular cortex) to produce a pleasant sensation somewhere in the body. If the situation is judged as being disagreeable, it produces an unpleasant body sensation. The intensity of the body-sensation varies according to how we take things personally."

“Then we react based on our past learning. The stronger the body sensation (i.e., the consequence of having taken something personally), the stronger the reaction will be.”

Dr Cayoun said that these body sensations are mostly subconscious and pro-survival. Our nervous system is wired that way because our mind is conditioned to react with craving when we need to feed, procreate, or need the support of our social environment, and with aversion when we evaluate the situation as a threat to our survival, including social survival. 

"Unless we learn to observe these mechanisms for what they are, mindfully, this very predictable habit pattern of the mind is maintained. There may be a kind of survival there, but not much happiness."

“Mindfulness is about training the brain to remove those judgements and examine the stimuli without reacting… to be less driven by the need to protect our sense of self (our ego), less biased, more objective, to approach things like we try to do in science.”

Dr Cayoun has combined the practice of mindfulness and cognitive behaviour therapy to help patients with chronic pain, most types of anxiety and depressive disorders, and even some aspects of Schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease. 

 “I teach my patients to observe their experiences without personal bias and without reaction. To feel the sensations but not react to it or to the stimulus.

“For example, most people don’t realise that the body does not have pain receptors. We have stimuli that send messages to the brain through nociceptive fibres to be classified as safe or unsafe. In chronic pain, this is a decision made according to past judgements and reactions. It is learned. I help my patients with chronic pain to train their brain to process the pain sensations as safe and prevent a pain response.”

In this instance, the patient is taught to ‘observe’ the painful sensation and describe it by detailing its mass, motion, temperature and fluidity/constriction. Essentially to study it like a scientist. By attending to the sensations objectively, rather than taking them personally and assuming they are a threat to who we are, the brain can be taught to interpret the stimuli more neutrally and decrease the need for reactivity. 

“The combination of mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy is very powerful. I have seen great success. In two 30-second increments patients reduce their chronic pain by about 50 per cent. After approximately two weeks of practice, they have learned to do it for themselves. After 2.5 months, their pain has further decreased significantly, independent of gender, source of referral, and type of pain, and without increase in their medication”.

Mindfulness is a tool for life that can be applied to all situations to improve your own happiness and that of those around you, according to Dr Cayoun. There are four stages in his mindfulness-integrated CBT training. 

1.     The Personal Stage, where you learn mindfulness skills, to notice and let go of unhelpful thoughts and emotions in order to address life’s challenges successfully.

2.     The Exposure Stage, where you apply your mindfulness skills to daily situations that you might be avoiding to prevent discomfort.

3.     The Interpersonal Stage, where you learn to develop better interpersonal understanding and communication skills in the face of tense situations, and learn not to react to others’ reactivity.

4.     The Empathic Stage, where you learn to increase your capacity to be kind to yourself and compassionate to others in your daily actions, leading to a deep sense of care and connectedness with people. 

While Dr Cayoun treats patients in his practice in Hobart, he has also made his research and approach more widely available in a new book: Mindfulness-Integrated CBT for Well-being and personal Growth: Four Steps to Enhance Inner Calm, Self-Confidence and Relationships.

"No matter what we do, we usually do it with the belief that it will either relieve us of unhappiness or increase our happiness. The problem is that even happiness leads to suffering when it is based on particular conditions. Simply because the conditions that allow us to be happy at any given time, sooner or later, will change. They are impermanent."

Dr Cayoun says that being mindful is a way to evolve our consciousness and experience things without anxiety, fear or emotion. 

" You can become aware of the things that make you unhappy and let go of them. You can learn to face potential conflicts smilingly. You can gain the ability to say yes or no without guilt and you can learn to avoid producing emotions that are destructive. Importantly, you can also learn compassion which allows you to feel and see how everything is connected, so that you can be less harmful to yourself and others. That’s how we move towards happiness."