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01-08-2014 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 4/2014

Mindfulness 4/2014

Rethinking Mindfulness in the Therapeutic Relationship

Mindfulness > Uitgave 4/2014
Gonzalo Brito


Mindfulness in the Buddhist context does not stand alone as a tool or technique to reduce and relieve stress. On the contrary, mindfulness is seen as a part of a contextualized set of attitudes, exercises, and practices that are employed to facilitate a deeper understanding of the illusion of a solid and separate self, which is believed to be a fundamental source of suffering. This paper explores how a contextually embedded and culturally informed understanding of mindfulness and the spiritual nature of this practice may help enhance therapeutic presence and the therapeutic relationship. First, it presents a review of the empirical literature discussing therapists’ mindfulness and the therapeutic relationship with an emphasis on the therapists’ presence. Second, it offers a critique of how mindfulness has often been understood in a reductionist fashion as an attentional technique instead of a mode of being. Third, it articulates a contextually embedded view of mindfulness, including its inherent transformational aspects. This paper argues for a revision of the current understanding of mindfulness in mainstream psychology, particularly in relation to the therapeutic relationship.

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