“Never be ashamed of what you feel. You have the right to feel any emotion that you want, and to do what makes you happy. That’s my life motto.” – Demi Lovato
A large proportion of psychological problems involve difficulties with emotions. These include depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, bipolar disorder, etc. Much of psychotherapy is devoted to treating these disorders. So, it is important to constantly work to improve treatment methodology for better treatment outcomes. Mindfulness has been shown to be effective in improving the regulation of emotions. (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/09/10/take-command-and-control-of-your-emotions/ and http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/08/20/regulate-emotions-with-mindfulness/). So, it would be expected that mindfulness would be a positive influence on the outcomes of psychotherapy.
Mindfulness is both a state and as a trait. We can be particularly mindful at a specific moment in time or we can be in general mindful most of the time. A person, high in trait mindfulness would simply be more likely to have state mindfulness at any particular time. People who are high in trait mindfulness tend to pay attention to their emotions more and be very aware of their emotions and internal sensations accompanying them. But they tend to experience these emotions at more moderate and manageable intensities, have a much lower tendency to judge the emotions as good or bad, and be better able to respond appropriately to the emotions. So, mindful individuals have superior emotion regulation. This should allow them to be better able to deal with emotions in therapy and have better therapeutic outcomes.
In a previous post we learned that mindfulness improves the performance of therapists by improving the therapeutic alliance with the client.This alliance, however, involves two people, the therapist and the client. It would be interesting to know if the client’s level of mindfulness was also important in psychotherapy. Would more mindful clients respond better to therapy and have improved outcomes?
In today’s Research News article “Does Patients’ Pretreatment Trait-Mindfulness Predict the Success of Cognitive Psychotherapy for Emotion Regulation?”
Cousin and Page investigate the relationship between the clients’ levels of trait mindfulness and the success of group therapy for emotional issues. They treated clients with a variety of psychological disorders, and measured their improvements in emotion regulation over the 20 weeks of group therapy. They found that high trait mindfulness was associated with greater improvements in emotion regulation than for participants with low trait mindfulness.
These results strongly suggest that the client’s level of mindfulness is as important as the therapists in promoting positive outcomes in psychotherapy. They also strongly suggest that clients’ who are high in mindfulness are better able to improve regulation of their emotions in therapy. These are important findings as they suggest that mindfulness training may be an important way to improve the effectiveness of psychotherapy.
So, be mindful and respond better to therapy.
“To balance and control your emotions is one of the most important things in life. Positive emotions enhance your life. Negative emotions sabotage your life.”– Dr T.P.Chia
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies