Three Ways to Bring Mindfulness Into Therapy

Mindfulness is currently the fastest-developing area in mental health.

Many therapists have come to regard cultivating moment-to-moment awareness as a curative mechanism that transcends diagnosis, addresses underlying causes of suffering, and serves as an active ingredient generally in most effective psychotherapies. The clinical value of mindfulness interventions has been demonstrated for most psychological difficulties, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, drug abuse, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

And it doesn’t matter which therapeutic approach we take, be it psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, or any other. Mindfulness practices can be tailored to fit this needs of our patients. Though historically mindfulness practices have been presented as one-size-fits-all remedies, as the field matures we’re starting to understand how these practices affect different people with different problems, how to modify them in several clinical situations, and exactly how to utilize the inevitable obstacles that arise.

Mindfulness can also enhance emotional well-being of clinicians, helping us develop beneficial therapeutic qualities such as acceptance, attention, compassion, equanimity, and presence that enrich and enliven our work and help us avoid burnout. After we have developed these qualities in ourselves, we can safely and thoughtfully introduce our patients to practices that lead to a multitude of clinical benefits.
1. Mindfulness can be a refuge for the therapist near me
1. Start by sitting comfortably, with your back straight and eyes either softly open or closed.

2. Notice that you are breathing and have the sensations of the breath.

3. If your mind wanders, no issue; just gently bring your attention back to the breath. After following breath for a few momemts, see if you can locate any discomfort, perhaps an itch or an ache.

4. Rather than automatically shifting to alleviate the ache, or scratching the itch, bring your full focus on the discomfort. Notice its texture, and exactly how it changes moment to moment.

5. Stick with the sensations of discomfort as long as you can. Test out sticking to them for some time.

6. After attending to the discomfort for several minutes, return your focus on the sensations of the breath.

In the practice of mindfulness, we bring focus on our experience in today’s moment. We let go of our regrets and rumination about the past, or our worries about the near future, and return our focus on what’s happening right now. We begin by concentrating on the sounds in the area, the sensations of the breath, or the sensation of sitting in a chair with this feet touching the ground. Even as develop this skill to be available to and accepting of whatever is emerging, we are more present in our experience and that of others. As we become less distracted and preoccupied with this own concerns, we can listen more fully.

Recent research shows that therapists who practice mindfulness meditation like a variety of benefits with no apparent negative effects. Included in these are a reduction in perceived job stress and burnout, as well as an increase in self-acceptance, self-compassion, and sense of well-being. Furthermore, clinicians have reported improvements in their relationships using their patients, saying that they had a greater convenience of empathy, and experienced an elevated ability to be present without having to be defensive or reactive.

You may be convinced that you are too busy to bring formal mindfulness practice into the clinical day. But even in the busiest clinical settings on the craziest days, there’s always an opportunity to practice informally. Among well known practices can be carried out before greeting your next patient. It really is called “Two Feet, One Breath.” Within this practice, you take the time to pause, feel both feet on to the floor, and then feel your inhalation as well as your exhalation. A straightforward intervention like this only takes a moment and can help you center, enter into today’s moment, and hook up with your patient.

As you develop your practice, you’ll are more acquainted with what we call “anchors,” places to which you return your attention when your brain has wandered. It’s like coming home after you’ve been away. The anchor offers a feeling of safety and comfort. It can be invaluable during a difficult clinical situation.

Let’s say you’re sitting with an individual who’s angry along, or who confesses he’s been planning suicide. You end up feeling anxious, afraid, or confused. You see that you begin to clench your jaw and tighten your fists. Your shoulders rise toward your ears. You wonder what to do. Before formulating a reply, you could try pausing for an instant to return to your breath, the sensations of sitting, or the sounds in the area. Or, you can silently say to yourself, May both of us be well. May we both be free from suffering. May both of us are in wisdom and compassion.

Connecting with your breath or your compassionate intention gives you an opportunity to pause, to come back in to the present moment, to dispel the clouds of fear and confusion, and let your innate wisdom inform what you do next.

2. Mindfulness can deepen the therapeutic relationship
This essay is adapted from Sitting Together: Essential Skills for Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy.
Current studies claim that in successful treatment alliances, therapists are perceived as warm, understanding, and accepting, approaching their patients with an open, collaborative attitude. Mindfulness can help us develop these qualities.

The foundational skill in mindfulness meditation of concentration or focused attention can be very useful in the remedy hour, where so many factors can cause your brain to wander-for example, when this content of the session threatens us, or another worry distracts us, or the individual becomes disengaged, making his / her words less compelling, or we just get tired. Without mindfulness training, we might try to maintain attention by arriving the intensity or volume to keep things “interesting.” Through mindfulness practice, we instead understand how to turn up our attention, to apply existence independent of content, to bring our wholehearted focus on whatever is going on.

Of the many factors that hinder attention during therapy, one of the very most challenging is the arousal of powerful and painful feelings. Most patients discuss difficult experience of illness, loss, failure, and disappointment. Unless we’re very proficient at denial, we realize that these misfortunes could easily befall us or our loved ones. Or, we might find ourselves overwhelmed by the pain and sadness we experience simply because we empathize with this patients.

Mindfulness practices can be powerful tools to increase our tolerance for painful emotions, boosting our ability to remain attentive while sitting with suffering. That is important for a solid alliance, because our patients usually express only those feelings they believe we can tolerate hearing. Alternatively, if we’re in a position to be with a fuller selection of experience, this will help our patients do the same.

Many people are surprised with what happens when they bring focus on physical discomforts in this manner. Often they notice that pain sensations aren’t solid, but pulse and differ from moment to moment, and sometimes pass without the special action on our part.

By practicing being with discomfort in this concentration practice, we can steadily become better able to tolerate pain of most sorts, like the pain of difficult emotions. We are able to step back, seeing our thoughts and feelings as just thoughts and feelings, much less facts. Rather than getting lost inside our perspective, we can redirect our focus on the individual and what is unfolding in today’s moment.

3. Mindfulness can be considered a tool for our patients
How can we make mindfulness accessible to the widest possible range of patients? What are a few of the challenges that arise and how do we react to them skillfully?

To greatly help skeptical folks build relationships a specific practice, try presenting it as an experiment, suggesting that others in similar circumstances have found it to be useful. Depending on the situation, it can be beneficial to share information from clinical tests and possibly your individual experience with the practice.