Mental health practitioners’ experiences of the mindfulness-based stress reduction programme : an explorative qualitative inquiry.
This study explored the experiences and perceived outcomes of the Mindfulness-based stress reduction programme on mental health practitioners. Particular attention was given to the practitioners’ experiences of mindfulness as a way to reduce stress. Additionally, the process of imbuing mindfulness, its effect on the way the practitioners related to others both at a personal and professional level and how they integrated mindfulness into their clinical practices were also considered. A qualitative approach was used to gather data, in the form of an open-ended qualitative online questionnaire, which was analysed using thematic analysis. The link to the questionnaire was posted on mindfulness discussion forums and social media sites. Sixty-two people responded but only sixteen met the criteria and filled in the forms completely. All sixteen participants were over the age of 18, had completed an MBSR programme and considered themselves to be mental health practitioners. Five super-ordinate themes emerged from the data which were further divided into several sub-themes. The five super ordinate themes were: experiences of mindfulness; personal outcomes; mindfulness as a therapy resource; challenges around the process and further aspects for consideration. The findings suggested that mindfulness instilled the mental health practitioners with qualities such as non-judging, increased awareness, and present moment focus. These characteristics enhanced the practitioners’ sense of well-being and influenced the way they responded to stressors in their lives. This subsequently led to feelings of being grounded and experiencing themselves as more effective therapists. Although the views that were expressed were very positive about mindfulness, there were mixed experiences regarding the required processes of imbuing these qualities and practices. Most participants felt that the formal meditation aspect of the MBSR programme was very time consuming and required dedicated discipline. However, this study has supported previous research findings that point to the positive outcomes of mental health practitioners practicing mindfulness which can act as a therapeutic technique valuable for both self-care and subsequent positive client outcomes. Thus, emphasising its potential worth as a workshop to be offered for both personal and professional development of mental health practitioners.