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01-12-2014 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 6/2014

Mindfulness 6/2014

The Influence of Therapist Mindfulness Practice on Psychotherapeutic Work: A Mixed-Methods Study

Mindfulness > Uitgave 6/2014
Anthony Keane


An increasing number of psychotherapists across therapeutic modalities are practising meditation. This two-phase study examined the influence of personal mindfulness meditation practice on psychotherapists and their work. In phase 1 of the study, 40 psychotherapists from a variety of theoretical backgrounds completed a postal survey. The survey included self-report measures of mindfulness and empathic capacity as well as open-ended questions on the influence of mindfulness practice on participants and their work. In phase 2, follow-up face-to-face interviews were conducted with a subsample of 12 participants. These interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Significant associations were found between meditation experience and self-reported mindfulness, and between levels of mindfulness and self-reported empathy. Specific themes were identified in therapists’ qualitative responses regarding the influence of mindfulness practice on their work. These included enhanced attention and self-awareness, and improved ability to be present and to attune to clients. Mindfulness practice helped internalise attitudes and qualities that have a positive influence on therapeutic work. It increased awareness of self-care needs and provided support in meeting them, and influenced perspectives on psychotherapy. Mindfulness practice also presented challenges for participants. The findings suggest that personal mindfulness practice can enhance key therapist abilities (e.g. attention) and qualities (e.g. empathy) that have a positive influence on therapeutic relating. Mindfulness practice could provide a useful adjunct to psychotherapy training and be an important resource in the continuing professional development of therapists across modalities.

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