While research points to the conclusion that mindfulness meditation offers numerous benefits to therapists and trainees, do these benefits translate to psychotherapy treatment outcomes? Although changes in depression symptoms were not found, PTSD and anxiety symptoms ificantly decreased after the intervention Waelde et al.
One study, for example, looked at premedical and medical students who participated in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction training. Contrary to expectation, therapist mindfulness was inversely correlated with client outcome.
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In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. They found that the meditation group had ificantly better performance on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness. Among its theorized benefits are self-control, objectivity, affect tolerance, enhanced flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and one's self with kindness, acceptance and compassion.
Mindfulness has been shown to enhance self-insight, morality, intuition and fear modulation, all functions associated with the brain's middle prefrontal lobe area. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them. Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were correlated directly with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning Moore and Malinowski, Less emotional reactivity.
Several studies suggest that mindfulness promotes empathy.
Another study assessed changes in symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder among New Orleans mental health workers following an eight-week meditation intervention that began 10 weeks after Hurricane Katrina. The findings suggest that meditation may serve a buffering role for mental health workers in the wake of a disaster.
Other benefits. Reduced rumination. Within the meditating military group, however, working memory capacity increased with meditation practice. In one study, for example, Chambers et al. Advocates of mindfulness would have us believe that virtually every client and therapist would benefit from being more mindful.
The researchers found that the nonmeditating military group had decreased working memory capacity over time, whereas working memory capacity among nonmeditating civilians was stable across time. These same students had greater attention, self-regulation and immunoreactivity. So far, only one study suggests it does. Better quality of life. Another line of research suggests that in addition to helping people become less reactive, mindfulness meditation may also give them greater cognitive flexibility.
More cognitive flexibility. Counseling skills. Improvements to working memory appear to be another benefit of mindfulness, research finds. Self-compassion fully mediated the relationship between perspective taking and mindfulness. In addition, the fMRI data indicated that the mindfulness group had less neural reactivity when they were exposed to the films than the control group, and they displayed distinctly different neural responses while watching the films than they did before their mindfulness training.
Similarly, in a study of Chinese college students, those students who were randomly ased to participate in a mindfulness meditation intervention had lower depression and anxiety, as well as less fatigue, anger and stress-related cortisol compared to a control group Tang et al. The researchers concluded that mindfulness-based therapy may be useful in altering affective and cognitive processes that underlie multiple clinical issues.
The researchers found that the participants who experienced mindfulness-based stress reduction had ificantly less anxiety, depression and somatic distress compared with the control group.
Specifically, research has identified these benefits for psychotherapists who practice mindfulness meditation:. Empirical evidence suggests that mindfulness protects against the emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflict Barnes et al. Those findings are consistent with evidence that mindfulness meditation increases positive affect and decreases anxiety and negative affect.
Evidence also suggests that mindfulness meditation has numerous health benefits, including increased immune functioning Davidson et al. The researchers compared a group of experienced mindfulness meditators with a control group that had no meditation experience. Another study examined how mindfulness meditation affected participants' ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information.
Mindfulness has enjoyed a tremendous surge in popularity in the past decade, both in the popular press and in the psychotherapy literature. They also experienced fewer depressive symptoms and less rumination. Stanley et al. But more important, after nine weeks of treatment, clients of trainees who meditated displayed greater reductions in overall symptoms, faster rates of change, scored higher on measures of well-being and perceived their treatment to be more effective than clients of nonmeditating trainees.
After the retreat, the meditation group had ificantly higher self-reported mindfulness and a decreased negative affect compared with a control group. Empirical literature demonstrates that including mindfulness interventions in psychotherapy training may help therapists develop skills that make them more effective. In a study of people who had anywhere from one month to 29 years of mindfulness meditation practice, researchers found that mindfulness meditation practice helped people disengage from emotionally upsetting pictures and enabled them to focus better on a cognitive task as compared with people who saw the pictures but did not meditate Ortner et al.
Several studies find that a person's ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction — the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one's emotions to a conscious dating High Point. In a study conducted in Germany, randomly ased counselor trainees who practiced Zen meditation for nine weeks reported higher self-awareness compared with nonmeditating counselor trainees Grepmair et al.
These findings suggest that mindfulness meditation shifts people's ability to use emotion regulation strategies in a way that enables them to experience emotion selectively, and that the emotions they experience may be processed differently in the brain Farb et al. In addition, the meditators had ificantly better working memory capacity and were better able to sustain attention during a performance task compared with the control group.
This feature will provide you with updates on critical developments in psychology, drawn from peer-reviewed literature and written by leading psychology experts. Help us improve your experience by providing feedback on this. InKingsbury investigated the role of self-compassion in relation to mindfulness. These cognitive gains, in turn, contribute to effective emotion-regulation strategies.
Here's a look at its benefits for both clients and psychologists. To earn CE credit, after you read this article, purchase the online exam. Several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces rumination. Research found that premedical and medical students reported less anxiety and depressive symptoms after participating in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction training compared with a waiting list control group Shapiro et al.
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The practice has moved from a largely obscure Buddhist concept founded about 2, years ago to a mainstream psychotherapy construct today. Research also supports the notion that mindfulness meditation decreases emotional reactivity. Relationship satisfaction. However, the of three other studies were not as encouraging. Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress.
Stress reduction. Boosts to working memory. To date, only one study has investigated the relationship between mindfulness and counseling self-efficacy. A wealth of new research has explored this age-old practice. Decreased stress and anxiety. To be consistent with most of the research reviewed in this article, we define mindfulness as a moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience without judgment.
Empirically supported benefits of mindfulness
In one study, participants randomly ased to an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction group were compared with controls on self-reported measures of depression, anxiety and psychopathology, and on neural reactivity as measured by fMRI after watching sad films Farb et al. Purchase the online exam. In addition, meditation practice was directly related to self-reported positive affect and inversely related to self-reported negative affect. U pon successful completion of the test a score of 75 percent or higheryou can print your CE certificate immediately.
The control group evidenced similar gains after exposure to mindfulness-based stress reduction training. Similarly, following such training, therapist trainees have reported decreased stress, rumination and negative affect Shapiro et al. But is mindfulness as good as advertised? Two components of mindfulness — nonjudging and nonreacting — were strongly correlated with self-compassion, as were two dimensions of empathy — taking on others' perspectives i.
Both military groups were in a highly stressful period before deployment. Greason and Cashwell found that counseling self-efficacy was ificantly predicted by self-reported mindfulness among masters-level interns and doctoral counseling students. Researchers theorize that mindfulness meditation promotes metacognitive awareness, decreases rumination via disengagement from perseverative cognitive activities and enhances attentional capacities through gains in working memory.
The term "mindfulness" has been used to refer to a psychological state of awareness, the practices that promote this awareness, a mode of processing information and a character trait. One study found that people who practice mindfulness meditation appear to develop the skill of self-observation, which neurologically disengages the automatic pathways that were created by prior learning and enables present-moment input to be integrated in a conscious dating High Point way Siegel, a.
Other benefits for therapists. While many studies have been conducted on the benefits of applying mindfulness approaches to psychotherapy clients for reviews, see Didonna, and Baer,research on the effects of mindfulness on psychotherapists is just beginning to emerge. InHoffman et al. A study by Jha et al. This article offers an overview of the research on mindfulness and discusses its implications for practice, research and training.
Ina qualitative study of therapists who were experienced meditators found that they believed that mindfulness meditation helped develop empathy toward clients Aiken, Along similar lines, Wang found that therapists who were experienced mindfulness meditators scored higher on measures of self-reported empathy than therapists who did not meditate.