Date of Award

7-24-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology

Committee Chair

Michael S. Christopher, Ph.D.

Abstract

While meditation techniques have been used in therapy for at least the past 30 years (Kabat-Zinn, 1982), few studies have looked at the impact of the therapist having a personal meditation practice on therapist qualities and the effectiveness of therapy. The studies that have been conducted on this topic have looked at the effects of teaching therapists in training to meditate (Grepmair, Mitterlehner, Loew, Bachler, Rother, & Nickel, 2007; Newsome, Christopher, Dahlen, & Christopher, 2006). The results of these studies support the hypothesis that having a personal meditation practice as a therapist may improve the effectiveness of the therapy provided. The present qualitative study involved interviewing six therapists about how they think that meditation has influenced them and their therapy. The study provides an exploration and development of the variables that may be influenced by therapist meditation. Participants reported that meditation has made them more effective therapists and allows them to build stronger alliances with their clients by increasing positive therapist characteristics including empathy, unconditional positive regard, and non-judgment. Because of their experience with meditation’s beneficial impact on therapy, the participants suggested that meditation be taught to therapists in training and stated that they would not be the therapists that they are today without meditation. Finally, the participants reported that meditation allows them to handle the stresses related to being a therapist.

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