Investigating the effects of mindfulness training on the well-being and clinical development of graduate students
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This report involves a proposed study that intends to examine the effects of mindfulness training for graduate students in the helping profession. The study aims to examine a possible complement to psychology graduate education that may enhance well-being and prevent deleterious consequences of stress, as well as provide students with knowledge and skills to better prepare them for their future roles as practitioners. The study will empirically investigate the efficacy of a mindfulness-based intervention to enhance well-being, benefit the therapist-client relationship through the cultivation of empathy, and promote clinical training progress via enhancing skills rated by clinical supervisors. Additional goals include examination of whether mindfulness training increases mindfulness levels and clarification of the relationship between amount of mindfulness practice and mental health outcomes. This report provides an integrated analysis of relevant current literature related to these research goals, including an overview of mindfulness, outlining its origins and defining the construct. After providing this basis for understanding, this report describes mindfulness practice, with particular focus given to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which is the intervention to be utilized in the proposed study. Following a brief review of empirical findings that summarize the effects of MBSR found in the literature, mental health providers are discussed as a particularly at-risk population for experiencing stress and its deleterious effects on personal and professional life. The relationship, overlap, and similarities between mindfulness and psychotherapy that have been suggested in the literature are then described, with consideration given to the particular elements they share. Literature which describes a gap in psychology graduate school curricula that neglects self care and clinical skills training, and research that indicates that beginning helping professionals may particularly benefit from self care training is discussed. This report then suggests that mindfulness training may uniquely and efficaciously complement psychology graduate school training, with respect to the enhancement of well-being of therapists in training, their ability to cope with graduate school, and their development of clinical skills. The proposed study is then presented, describing methods and expected results, finishing with a brief discussion.