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Cultivating Self-Care and Compassion in Psychological Therapists in Training: The Experience of Practicing Loving-Kindness Meditation
Training and Education in Professional Psychology
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2013
Pages: 267 - 277
Source ID: shanti-sources-33221
Abstract: Given significant rates of psychological distress in practicing psychological therapists, including those in training, there is a need to cultivate self-care and compassion during therapy training. Emerging research has suggested that loving-kindness meditation (LKM) increases well-being and compassion, thus, making it a potential tool to foster self-care in trainee therapists (TT). However, studies have also suggested difficulties in engaging with LKM. This study aimed to explore in-depth how a sample of TT experiences a course of LKM, using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Twelve TT who had previously attended a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy course took part in a six-session LKM course and were interviewed about their experience. Five master themes were identified: (a) engaging with the practice, (b) impact on self, (c) impact on relationships, (d) bringing compassion into the therapy room, and (e) integrating LKM into life. Participants perceived LKM to have led to increased self-awareness, compassion for self and others, and therapeutic presence and skills. At the same time, LKM was experienced as emotionally challenging. The findings suggest that it may be useful to offer LKM to TT as an approach to enhancing self-care and compassion, but that it should be taught with care, given its potential emotional impact. Moreover, the findings provide a platform for future quantitative research in this area.