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VIDEO: Integrating Mindfulness into Psychotherapy

In her interview with PsychAlive Senior Editor Lisa Firestone, Dr. Donna Rockwell describes how she integrates mindfulness into her practice of psychotherapy. Watch or read the interview below.

Donna Rockwell:  I would say almost everybody who comes in the door, even though some therapists don’t think this is a good idea, I do, sit with their patients and I teach them meditation practice and we sit, at least in the beginning, a few times together and we can sort of talk back about that mindfulness, how did it work in your life now.  And many of my patients continue to practice and say that it really adds considerably to their lives.

And if you can’t do a formal sitting practice, there’s always movement meditation.  I don’t know if you’ve heard of it.  It’s called yoga.  So, the people who don’t want to actually sit, they can do meditation, they can become more mindful by practicing yoga.

So that’s another gateway into this whole way of being.  If you can assume mountain pose and be with your trembling thigh, you can be with those moments in life way more efficiently because you’ve already been with your own trembling, so you can be with the trembling of the planet.  So yoga’s a fantastic way as well.

Lisa Firestone:   And you find it’s helpful for most all of your patients or …

DR: Yes, it is, because, I mean, we all have the same mind.  It’s just one universal mind and it jumps all over the place.  We have our personalities but that’s not what we’re talking about.  We’re talking about the nature of mind itself.  So with all of my clients and patients we talk about the mind.  So that they aren’t victims and imprisoned by what they happen to be thinking at this particular moment.  It’s very hopeful.

So I think, it’s hard for me to actually envision psychotherapy without mindfulness.  And, I don’t  know if you know, but I’ve done research, which is about to be published, on mindfulness working with clinical psychology students.  And the difference that it says the research finding say that it has made in their practice and their personal lives for wellbeing and self- care, which is so important for therapists.  We could talk about self-care for a whole hour, how important that is.  And mindfulness is a piece of that and interpersonal presence in the therapy room.

If you have a mindful therapist, you have a mindful therapy session.  And then the client can learn how to be mindful just from being in the presence of their therapist.  They can feel it and “soak it up,” as my mother would say.  And so I think that it’s critical, it’s critical to be a mindful therapist and to have one’s own mindfulness practice.  And as I said, it doesn’t have to be a formal sitting practice.  It can be returning to the breath any time during the day.  Several times.

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