Date of Graduation

5-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

Kristin K. Higgins

Committee Member

Roy Farley

Second Committee Member

Danette Horne

Third Committee Member

Ed Mink

Abstract

Mindfulness and meditation have been seen as beneficial for mental health and mindfulness-based therapies have proliferated alongside an increase in popular interest in mindfulness (Germer, Siegel, & Fulton, 2013). However, many therapists are unaware of how to add mindfulness-based interventions. It may seem especially ambiguous for therapists and clients unfamiliar with the concept. In this dissertation, the history and current research on mindfulness-based psychotherapy, and its benefits and contraindications, are reviewed, and the researcher’s relationship to the topic is explained. It is identified that one way to add mindfulness to psychotherapy is for the therapist and the client to co-meditate in the beginning of therapy sessions. There are anecdotal reports of this being done (Gilligan, 2012; Kornfield, conference presentation, 2013) but there is no published research on this specific practice. A phenomenological qualitative study to explore the lived experience of therapists co-meditating with their clients in the beginning of sessions was designed and carried out. Five therapists played a five-minute guided meditation audio instruction, and co-meditated with up to four of their clients in up to four sessions. At the end of each session, the therapists recorded their experiences and feedback from clients. The therapists were interviewed about their experience at the end of the study. Questions included whether this is a beneficial practice, did it help with connection and rapport, did their clients benefit, is this a doable therapeutic intervention, and would they recommend it to others. All participating therapists found it beneficial for clients, some found it beneficial for themselves. Some clients favored the activity and reported plans to incorporate meditation and mindfulness in their lives. Some decided to do informal practices, and some reported it is not for them. The therapists said they would recommend the intervention for their trainees and found it to be feasible and accessible. They reported several benefits and some problems with the practice. The findings from the interviews and feedback forms were analyzed and coded for individual and collective themes. The implications of these findings for therapeutic interventions, therapist training, and trauma work were discussed, and related future research directions were suggested.

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