Development of MCIP
Mindfulness- and Compassion-Oriented Integrative Psychotherapy (MCIP) is an approach to psychotherapy that integrates relationally-focused integrative psychotherapy with mindfulness- and compassion-oriented approaches, research and practice (Žvelc & Žvelc, 2021). MCIP was developed by Maša and Gregor Žvelc during last 15 years at the Institute for integrative psychotherapy and counselling, Ljubljana.
MCIP is based on relationally-focused integrative psychotherapy developed by Richard G. Erskine and his colleagues (Erskine, 2015, 2019a; Erskine & Moursund, 1988; Erskine et al., 1999; Moursund & Erskine, 2004). Maša and Gregor have been providing training in relationally-focused integrative psychotherapy and have further integrated this approach with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), theory of memory reconsolidation, Porges’ polyvagal theory and research of mindfulness and compasion.
The fundamental principle that holds all the various ideas and concepts together is the importance of the therapeutic relationship (Žvelc & Žvelc, 2021). In MCIP, mindfulness and compassion are brought into the heart of the psychotherapeutic relationship. In this way, this model differs from other approaches that use mindfulness and compassion primarily as techniques to be learned and used by the client. In MCIP, the therapist, through the power of a mindful and compassionate therapeutic relationship, acts as a guide for the client to embody present moment awareness, a decentred perspective, acceptance and self-compassion. Methods of MCIP provide a new context in which “two aware minds are more powerful than only one” (G. Žvelc, 2012, p. 47). Through the power of a mindful and compassionate relationship, the client brings qualities of mindfulness and compassion into their life and to their inner experience and self-states.
The importance of Observing/Transcendent Self
In MCIP we distinguish betwen two main sense of self: the personal sense of self and observing/transcendent self. While the personal sense of self relates to our ‘ordinary’ self related to our identification with self-narrative, the observing/transcendent self is “awareness itself” that is aware of our thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and perceptions. While personal sense of self is related to our ‘ordinary unhappiness’, observing self is in MCIP viewed as the source of mindfulness, compassion, interconnection, spirituality, transcendence and inner peace.
The model of four states of consciousness describes four states of consciousness related to relationship between personal sense of self and observing self: 1) Restricted consciousness, 2) Adult state of consciousness, 3) Mindful state of consciousness and 4) Nondual awareness. The goal in MCIP is to activate client’s mindful state of consciousness in order to to transform dysfunctional relational schemas and self-states.
Phases of MCIP
MCIP proceeds through three main phases in which mindfulness and compassion processes are gradually developed and used in a specific way. In the first phase the client develops the capacity for mindfulness and compassion, in the second phase the client develops metacognitive awareness of their personal sense of self and the third phase is related to integration and processing of unresolved painful experiences and self-states. In this way mindfulness and compassion processes are not only used to cope with painful experience, but to integrate and process unresolved traumatic experience through the process of memory reconsolidation. Within MCIP, two new methods for processing were developed: mindful processing method and self-compassionate processing (Žvelc & Žvelc, 2021).