By Susan M. Pollak, Ronald D. Siegel, Thomas Pedulla
Mindfulness is now the fastest-developing area in mental health.
Many therapists have come to regard cultivating moment-to-moment awareness as a curative mechanism that transcends diagnosis, addresses underlying causes of suffering, and serves as an active ingredient in most effective psychotherapies. The clinical value of mindfulness interventions has been demonstrated for many psychological difficulties, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, substance abuse, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
And it doesn’t matter which therapeutic approach we take, be it psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, or any other. Mindfulness practices can be tailored to fit the particular needs of our patients. Though historically mindfulness practices have been presented as one-size-fits-all remedies, as the field matures we’re beginning to understand how these practices affect different individuals with different problems, how to modify them in different clinical situations, and how to work with the inevitable obstacles that arise.
Mindfulness can also enhance emotional well-being of clinicians, helping us develop beneficial therapeutic qualities such as acceptance, attention, compassion, equanimity, and presence that enrich and enliven our work and help us avoid burnout. Once we have developed these qualities in ourselves, we can safely and…