“Teaching our clients, the skills of mindfulness have certainly been linked with numerous benefits; psychological, physiological and relational. Yet, not only is mindfulness practice helpful outside the therapy room for our clients but it can really improve our in-session abilities and enhance the therapeutic relationship.
Let’s first refresh on what mindfulness is. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as paying attention in a particular way:
on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally. Here are 4 ways in which this skill let’s see can assist you in difficult moments of therapy.
Help you to slow the session down
Often clients can enter the therapy room hooked in the thoughts, feelings and stories they are struggling which can create a lot of chatter in the room. This can often leave us feeling overwhelmed and lost. Mindfulness is a great way to help you and the client slow the session down so you can reset and refocus the session in a more helpful way. Asking the client to take a few slow mindful breaths with you can be a simple way to do this.
Help you move through stuck moments
Sometimes we can feel stuck as to where to go or what to say in a session. Being skillful at mindfulness can help us to tune into the transference and counter transference that is occurring and if this is useful we can pass this back to the client to help encourage empathy and exploration.
Bring the client into present moment
Therapy can be hindered when clients are unable to contact their present moment experience. We can use mindfulness such as a grounding technique when we see clients become overwhelmed by their feelings, memories or thoughts. We can also help clients connect with their feelings, which they may have been avoiding, and this may be the key to helping them to move forward.
Provide you with space within the moment and reduce burn out
Clients can share some really difficult experiences with us; mindfulness can help us to create some space for ourselves in the room. By keeping part of our attention on our breath and body we can hold ourselves amongst the difficult work we do. Practicing acceptance with our own thought and feelings can really assist with our self-care and reduce the factors of burn out.”
Samantha Clarke (PhD)
Samantha Clarke is a Clinical Psychologist, Personal Trainer and Director of Sunshine Coast Clinical Psychology in Queensland. Samantha incorporates a holistic approach to healthcare, placing emphasis on helping each individual move towards a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Samantha’s work has a strong foundation in providing Mindfulness-based interventions and she is particularly interested in assisting people with addressing lifestyle difficulties and overall wellness. Her PhD is focused on connecting individual meaning into health practices to enhance goal achievement and overall wellbeing.
Merging two of her passions – travel and wellness – Samantha founded Mind Body Resilience wellness retreats held in Australia and overseas. These wellness intensives assist health professionals reconnect with their sense of meaning, combat burnout and kick-start their overall health.
Held in stunning natural locales the retreats combine evidence based psychological strategies, along with movement practices and nutritional needs to arm participants with the skills needed to bounce back from stress, pursue goals and address barriers that ultimately arise in life.
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