Author

Peter Hauge

Date of Award

Summer 8-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

John Mills, Ph.D., ABPP

Second Advisor

Derek Hatfield, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Anson Long, Ph.D.

Abstract

Mindfulness, a practice with roots in Buddhism, has been used effectively as a Western psychological tool with both clinical and nonclinical populations. In the past 10 years, interest has increased in bringing mindfulness practice to health professionals themselves, often with the aim of improving self-care, coping with stress, reducing overall psychological distress, and reducing burnout and compassion fatigue. Efforts have also been taken to examine the impact that mindfulness may have on clinicians’ levels of compassion. Most empirical efforts have focused on clinician self-compassion and on clinician empathy. Very little quantitative research, however, has examined mindfulness meditation and its influence on clinician’s compassion for others, particularly for their clients. This study also explored the degree to which empathy and compassion are distinct constructs, and the relationship between compassion and self-compassion.

In the current study, a brief mindfulness training program designed specifically for trainee mental health professionals was administered to members of clinical training programs, based on the notion that more mindful therapists are more effective and compassionate therapists. Self-report measures were used to evaluate the program’s impact on clinicians’ levels of compassion for clients, empathy for clients, self-compassion, and mindfulness. Analyses revealed that the program was generally effective, and that levels of mindfulness increased. Increases in levels of compassion, empathy, and self-compassion were not statistically significant. Empathy and compassion demonstrated a statistically significant correlation, but the effect size was not so large as to suggest that the two constructs are the same. Self-compassion and compassion were not statistically associated.

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