In my previous blog, I list three ways therapists can use mindfulness in their work (from the book, Mindfulness and Psychotherapy.) In my work as a therapist, all three of their examples have informed my work in some way.
As a starting point, my formal and informal mindfulness practice helps me to be more present with my clients and is a useful skill that reminds me to return to the present moment in my work. As humans, staying in the present moment is a difficult task. We are constantly pulled to the past or the future and can rarely stay with what is going on in the here and now…clearly, we lose a lot this way. I know that when I am off in my thoughts, I have a difficult time connecting with whoever and whatever is going on in the present moment. My mindfulness practice has been the reminder that allows me to pause, breathe, return to and engage the present moment. As a therapist, I have found this skill invaluable in helping me connect with my clients moment by moment.
I am also greatly informed by the theories behind mindfulness psychology as well as the current research surrounding mindfulness and psychotherapy. In addition, because of my work co-leading Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy groups, I have found that teaching mindfulness skills to clients can be very helpful in my clinical work. Clearly, as a therapist, I find the concept of mindfulness to inform how I do my work both personally and professionally.
It’s important to note that although I have found mindfulness to be helpful in my life, I do not think that mindfulness is the only way to cultivate presence in your life. I have found that the concept of mindfulness is helpful to me and to my clients, but I know plenty of very focused and present people, who I deeply respect, who have never heard of mindfulness. In addition, I don’t use or teach mindfulness skills in my practice unless my client is interested and thinks that it might be useful. Should a client try mindfulness skills and not relate to it…no big deal…there will probably be other ways we will find that will be helpful.
I began my blog entries with mindfulness because mindfulness can be a confusing topic, especially in its relationship to psychology. My next blog will introduce the topic of self-compassion. I hope that my first blog entries have been helpful in introducing the idea of mindfulness and how it is used in psychotherapy.