In this set of articles we will explore embodied attunement and empathy as key qualities for working mindfully in the present moment.
All content is adapted from a talk given by Margaret Landale at the BACP Universities & Colleges Conference 2014, with her permission. Thank you Margaret! If you’d like to hear more from Margaret, please see this interview and attend our workshops on Mindfulness in Psychotherapy. Also visit Margaret’s website.
Mindfulness and psychotherapy – final points
This is the final part of our series on mindfulness and psychotherapy, and concludes the series.
I’m a great believer in mindfulness as a way to cultivate empathy and compassion. It is a foundation stone for my work but what I really want to get across here is that while it is a hugely useful resource it requires deep commitment and requires a readiness in the practitioner to go to places in themselves and in their work with clients where it can be wordless, unsettling and perhaps even indescribable.
At the same time mindfulness and compassion help us develop a safe and containing intra and inter-personal relationship, which facilitates the integration of dissociated parts and the processing of traumatic memories. (14)
In this respect mindfulness deserves all the attention it is getting. The core skills of mindfulness, when applied with experience, offer us an approach to working deeply with clients on their core issues, which they have come to therapy to surface, understand and explore.
I’d like to conclude with a quote, which I believe summarises beautifully what we have explored in this series of articles:
As we practice and watch, we begin to see that the mind can accommodate everything and that there is no need to struggle against ourselves. Thoughts come, feelings come, sensations in the body come – we simply watch, without judgment, without clinging or fear, but rather with a feeling of accommodating warmth and friendship with ourselves. (15).
1. Bohart,A. C., Elliott, R., Greenberg, L.S., & WatsonJ.C., (2002). Empathy. In J.C Norcross (Ed.), Psychotherapy Relationships that Work: Therapist contributions and Responsiveness to Patients. New York: Oxford University Press.
2. Shapiro, S. and Carlson L., (2010). The Art and Science of Mindfulness. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
3. Buber, M., (1967). A Believing Humanism. New York: Simon&Schuster.
4. Siegel, D., (2010 a). The Mindful Therapist. New York: Norton.
5. Germer, C., Siegel, R., (2012). Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press.
6. Aberdeen University: MSc Mindfulness and Compassion, Compassion manual 1, Theory section, 2013
7. Cigolla, F. and Brown, D. (2011). A way of being: Bringing mindfulness into individual therapy, Psychotherapy Research, 21:6, 709-721, DOI: 10.1080/10503307.2011.613076
8. Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Astin, J., and Freedman, B., (2006). Mechanisms of Mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 62(3), 373-386. ‘Wiley InterScience’ Published 2006 [Available from: DOI 10.1002/jclp.20237].
9. Seeth, K., (1982). On psychotherapeutic attention. The Journal for Transpersonal Psychology. 1982. Vol. 14. No.2., p. 142.
10. Ogden, P. et.al., (2006).Trauma and the Body. New York: Norton.
11. Shapiro, S. and Carlson L., (2010). The art and science of mindfulness. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
12. Dryden, W.,and Still, A., (2006). Historical Aspects Of Mindfulness And Self-Acceptance In Psychotherapy. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, Vol. 24, No.1, Spring 2006.
13. Schore, A., (2003). Affect regulation and the repair of self. New York: Norton.
14. Germer, C., (2005). Mindfulness What Is It? Does It Matter? In: Germer, C.,Siegel, R., Fulton, P., eds. Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press. pp. 3- 27.
15. Goldstein, J., and Kornfield, J. (2001). Seeking the heart of wisdom. Boston: Shambala.
Brighton Therapy Partnership would like to thank Margaret Landale once again for a brilliant series. We hope you’ve all enjoyed it! We hope to see you in the future for some training on integrating mindfulness in your counselling and psychotherapy practices.