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Title:Is mindfulness enough? The therapeutic experiences of people engaging in western Buddhist practices
Author(s):Leipow, Rachel A.
Advisor(s):Heller, Wendy; Todd, Nathan
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Mindfulness-Based Intervention
Abstract:To date, there has been no systematic investigation evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of Western Buddhist practice as a therapeutic intervention relative other psychotherapeutic interventions. It is unclear why people engage in Western Buddhist practices, what they may be getting from these practices, or how Western Buddhist practices compare to psychotherapy outcomes. The answers to these questions may have implications for MBIs and the definition and applications of mindfulness as a psychological construct. The present qualitative study explored these questions by examining the experiences of 21 people engaging in Western Buddhist practices. Based on a semi-structured in-person interview and a constructivist grounded theory analysis of the data, three key themes emerged related to mindfulness and psychotherapy: (a) participants’ original and current motivations for engaging in Western Buddhism; (b) the outcomes of Western Buddhist practice; and (c) the juxtaposition of Western Buddhism and psychotherapy. Within the first theme, participants discussed being motivated to engage in their Western Buddhist-informed meditation practice to decrease suffering and increase physical and psychological well-being. They also practiced as a way to grapple with existential questions, and deal with their own mortality or the death of a loved one. The second theme, the outcomes of Western Buddhist practice, included three subthemes: positive psychological outcomes (including impacts on emotions, thoughts, behavior, and interpersonal relationships), negative outcomes (including negative mood, negative thoughts, and conflicts with other value sets), and positive Buddhist outcomes (including an increased experience of awareness, presence, and non-judgement, and a shift in the ways that attachment and impermanence are understood). Lastly, participants juxtaposed their experiences within Buddhism and psychotherapy, and discussed the ways that the practices were similar, different, and complementary. Although participant motivations for engaging in and outcomes of Western Buddhist practice clearly parallel the client motivations and goals of psychotherapy, most participants saw their Western Buddhist practice as complementary to, but not as a replacement for psychotherapy.
Issue Date:2017-04-26
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Rachel Leipow
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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