Trauma Therapists’ Clinical Applications, Training, and Personal Practice of Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation (MM) are increasingly used in trauma treatment, yet there is little research about therapist qualifications and clinical applications of these practices. We surveyed trauma therapists (N = 116) about their clinical uses, training, and personal practice of MM. Most respondents reported use of MM in trauma therapy, primarily MM-related imagery and breathing exercises and mindfulness in session or daily life. Almost a third used mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or mindfulness-based relapse prevention. Across all respondents, 66 % were trained by a mental health (MH) professional, 16 % were trained exclusively by a spiritual teacher, and 18 % received no training. On average, therapists used four types of MM. Less than half maintained a personal meditation practice and only 9 % reported practicing daily meditation. Therapists who were trained by a MH professional were more likely to integrate MM into trauma psychotherapy; those who were trained by a spiritual teacher were more likely to teach clients to use MM between sessions and reported more personal practice of MM. Results indicate divergence from standard recommendations for therapist personal practice and professional training in manualized uses; however, there is little guidance about requisite training and personal practice to support individualized uses of MM such as breathing exercises and imagery. Further research should address relationships of therapist training and personal practice to clinical outcomes in MM-informed trauma therapy.

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