UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Graduate counselling psychology students' experiences of mindfulness meditation and gratitude journalling Chlebak, Catherine Mary


Stress-impacts, both short and long term, are well-documented occupational “land-mines” that counsellors navigate throughout their careers (Baker, 2003; Guy, Poelstra, & Stark, 1989). Novice therapists and trainees are particularly vulnerable to these effects (Shapiro, Brown, & Biegel, 2007). Protective practices to prevent impairment and distress are paramount; one significant antidote is through self-care (Baker, 2003), having positive impacts both personally and professionally (Elman, 2007). Mindfulness is naturally linked with self-care through cultivating self-regulation and self-awareness, balancing interests related to self and others, and through coping (Shapiro et al. 2007). Emerging research with health care professionals, including trainees, shows benefits both personally and professionally (e.g. Davis & Hayes, 2011). Gratitude, considered theoretically to be linked with mindfulness, also has self-care roots. This emotion is considered within a cluster of traits associated with wellness and health (McCullough, 2002); not suprisingly, then, a causal relationship between well-being and gratitude is established (Nelson, 2009). Despite this research, counselling training programs have historically done little to offer trainees self-care strategies (Baker, 2003). In order to address these gaps, using a qualitative design with thematic analysis, a 15-minute mindfulness meditation and gratitude journalling intervention was conducted with 9 graduate counselling psychology students. Data was collected and analyzed from the weekly diaries and an interview at study-end. Four themes emerged from the interviews: Routine & Structure, Relationships, Attitudes of Mindfulness, and Overall Impressions. The diaries revealed three themes: Relationships, Situtational / Life Circumstances, and Ineffable Life Enhancers. A compelling argument is made for the inclusion of a mindfulness curriculum and for further studies of gratitude counselling interventions and the mindfulness and gratitude relationship.

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