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Mindfulness for Counsellors


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A Mindfulness presentation designed for counsellors participating in professional development, delivered in Sydney, 2010. Targeting adolescent clients with medium/heavy alcohol and/or other drug use. …

A Mindfulness presentation designed for counsellors participating in professional development, delivered in Sydney, 2010. Targeting adolescent clients with medium/heavy alcohol and/or other drug use. The presentation was delivered over45/60 minutes and initiated some interesting debate!

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  • Curious and non-judgemental awareness
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    • 1. Mindfulness with adolescent/young adult clientsCharles Audley, PALM AFC, ACT.
    • 2. How did I arrive at mindfulness?Interest in Eastern traditionsAuthors such as Jack Kornfield & othersInterest in tangible and self-directed therapiesLinks with nature (Howell et al., 2011)Honours thesis in Sports PsychologyImmediate grounding & versatility
    • 3. A very brief history and backgroundIs often brought back to Buddha’s Four Foundations: awareness of the body andsenses; awareness of the heart and feelings; awareness of the mind and thoughts;and awareness of the principles that govern lifeMindfulness has its roots based in traditional Buddhist practices of meditation andhas been used for hundreds, even thousands of years in many parts of Asia. Eventhough mindfulness is sometimes practiced within a Buddhist context, its essence isuniversal, and for this reason it can be learned and practiced without Buddhistideals (Kabat-Zinn, 1990)Has now been incorporated into several Western psychological interventionsincluding Dialectical behaviour therapy, Mindfulness-based stress reduction,Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, Acceptance and commitment therapy, withplenty more in development or undergoing refinementTime constraints!
    • 4. Defining mindfulnessMindfulness, as defined by Brown and Ryan (2003), is ‘‘being attentive to andaware of what is taking place in the present’’ (p. 822).More and more, wisdom is being used interchangeably with mindfulness like to explain mindfulness to clients as similar to the sensation of divinginto a pool on a hot day – refreshing, invigorating and enjoyable!
    • 5. Practical exerciseSo simple – walking meditation
    • 6. Past, Present, or Future?Mindfulness is largely concerned with present momentawareness, but I often find clients have recurringthoughts from their past, or overwhelming concernabout their future. How can mindfulness help?Mindfulness is invaluable in helping clients to look attheir past from a completely different perspective –with non-judgmental awareness. This effectively short-circuits the loop of regret, remorse and self-pity.What about the future?
    • 7. Anti-MindfulnessMany video gamesDrug useMost television watching
    • 8. Mindful?Ever had aclient whostayed up nightafter nightplaying videogames? Everdone the sameyourself?Video gaming can easily disrupt circadian rhythms resulting in sleepdisturbances such as insomnia and Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS).These cycles are already undergoing significant adjustment during adolescence(Crowley, Acebo & Carskadon, 2007).
    • 9. Mindful?Have you ever had a client ever stated they usepsychedelics to expand their consciousness?Can mindfulness help override temptation?Is substance abuse the ultimate denial of reality?
    • 10. TV watchingA very common way to “switch off”.I included television watching as I recently askedaround the unit why people actually watch tv. Manyresponded with “tuning out”, “relaxing”, or “why areyou asking me that”?How many of you watch 2 hours or more a day?
    • 11. Exercise 1An oldie but a goodie – the sultana exercise.Invite your senses to behold the humble sultana!Vision, touch, smell, taste, hearing.This may or may not be appropriate with our clients,however, it is a reliable discussion starter.
    • 12. Measuring mindfulnessFive Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire (Gill &Hodgkinson, 2004).39 itemsFive factors: Observe, Describe, Act with Awareness,Nonjudgment, Nonreactivity
    • 13. Measuring MindfulnessFreiburg Mindfulness Inventory (Buchheld, Grossman,& Walach, 2001)30 items standard form, 14 items (short form)Four factors: Mindful presence, Non-judgementalawareness, openness to experiences and insight. Itshould be noted that factor loadings suggest onecommon dominant factor, and three very weaksecondary loadings respectively.
    • 14. Bringing mindfulness into everyday activitiesHow about afternoon relaxation?Chores – vacuuming, washing the dishesBrushing your teethRelapse Prevention scenariosBeginning of counselling sessionsArriving and initiating your day at the office
    • 15. Mindfulness in sport Can mindfulness improve performance in sport?(Gooding and Gardner, 2009). Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Mindfulness as a possible mediating factor of anxiety andbasketball free throw percentage.
    • 16. Useful for the client, but even more useful for the practitioner!I have found that brining an increased awareness intomy thoughts and bodily sensations has really improvedmy outputI’m sure you may have caught your attentionwandering in session from time to time. When was thelast time you had a non-judgemental look at yourworkspace layout, decorations, colour scheme orclutter?It’s not of course, the magic cure. It does take effort,patience, and a desire to manifest this awareness. As wecontinually rediscover, the default setting in thehelping professions is typically client focused.
    • 17. SummaryBeginning mindfulness training with the clientrequires very little explanationKeep it practical – there are so many variations you cantailor to your therapeutic styleFind out what the client’s interests are and apply it totheir hobby, i.e. basketballDon’t forget how useful this can be for both you andyour clients
    • 18. References Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self- report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13, 27-45. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84,822–848. Buchheld, N., Grossman, P., & Walach, H. (2001). Measuring mindfulness in insight meditation (vipassana) and meditation-based psychotherapy: the development of the Freiburg MindfulnessInventory (FMI). Journal for Meditation and Meditation Research, 1, 11–34.•Crowley, S. J., Acebo, C. and Carskadon, M. A. (2007). Sleep, circadian rhythms, and delayed phase in adolescence. Sleep Medicine, 8 (6), 602-612. Gooding, A. and Gardner, F. L. (2009). An investigation of the relationship between mindfulness, preshot routine, and basketball free throw percentage. Journal of ClinicalSports Psychology, 4, 303-319. Gill, C. M. and Hodgkinson, G. P. (2007). Development and validation of the five-factor model questionnaire (ffmq): an adjectival-based personality inventory for use inoccupational settings. Personnel Psychology, 60, 731-766. Howell, A. J., Dopko, R. L., Passmore, H. and Buro, K. (2011). Nature connectedness: Associations with well-being and mindfulness. Personality and Individual Differences,51, 166-171.•Kostanski, M & Hassed, C (2008). Mindfulness as a concept and process, Australian Psychologist, 43 (1), 15-21.•Kornfield, J. (1993). A path with heart: a guide through the perils and promises of spiritual life. Bantam. New York, NY.•Walach, H., Bucheld, N., Buttenmuller, V., Kleinknecht, N. and Schmidt, S. (2006). Measuring mindfulness – the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI). Personality andIndividual Differences, 40, 1543-1555.