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Dissertation

Mindfulness training and distress tolerance among novice therapists: A preliminary investigation

16 July 2012

Abstract

Empirical support for mindfulness-based interventions has grown rapidly, as treatments have been demonstrated to reduce various measures of psychological distress. Few studies however, have examined the effect of mindfulness training on measures of distress tolerance. This dissertation aims to shed light on this relatively understudied construct, by measuring the effect of a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) graduate training course on dispositional mindfulness and distress tolerance among therapists in training. The current study also aims to evaluate the predictive relationship between changes in mindfulness and distress tolerance, and is the first known study to use the Distress Tolerance Scale (DTS; Simons & Gaher, 2005) to assess change in distress tolerance after participation in mindfulness training. Participants consisted of 25 masters and doctoral-level psychology graduate students from a small private university. A mixed factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) was utilized to determine the significance of changes in mindfulness and distress tolerance scores. Additionally, regression analyses were conducted to assess whether change in mindfulness score was predictive of residualized change in distress tolerance score. Contrary to study hypotheses, participation in the MBCT group was not associated with a significant increase in dispositional mindfulness or distress tolerance compared to the control group. Change in mindfulness was also not found to be a significant predictor of change in distress tolerance. There were several study limitations identified, and important directions for future research were discussed.


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