Bringing Mindfulness to Your Practice


When meditation helps . . . and when it doesn't

July/August 2005


Q: I'm interested in integrating meditation into my psychotherapy practice. What's the best way of doing this, and are there situations in which meditation can be

A: Meditation has been clearly linked to decreased anxiety, improved immune function, better emotional regulation, enhanced empathy, increased feelings of happiness and contentment, decreased stress effects, and relapse prevention for depression. Given the strength of the research, recommending meditation as part of the treatment for anxiety or stress can be done as readily as recommending exercise.

Early on in psychotherapy, I'll often explain to patients just how and why meditation may help them, offering this as a treatment option and asking them if they'd like for me to teach them one or two simple meditation techniques. Of course, if you're going to teach basic meditation, then it's important to at least occasionally practice the techniques yourself. While I don't introduce meditation to every patient, I've often been surprised that even quite conservative clients are willing to engage in practice. It's usually my more high-strung, driven, and stressed-out patients who benefit the most from these techniques. For those who express a strong interest, I'll also sometimes offer to refer them to local meditation groups for further training and support.

I usually start by telling my patients about the impressive amount of research on the benefits of meditation.…

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