In The Mindful Brain (2007), Daniel Siegal proposed that mindfulness is a form of healthy relationship or attunement to oneself. In many ways mindfulness is less about being a complete therapy method but more a practice that affects the ability of the therapist to be present and attuned to the client.
Mindfulness can also be taught and practiced within therapy to help process psychological material and increase self-awareness. In some ways mindfulness is the present day term for awareness.
Other elements of mindfulness.
Nonconceptual. Mindfulness is awareness without absorption in our thought processes.
Present-centered. Mindfulness is always in the present moment. Thoughts about our experience are one step removed from the present moment.
Nonjudgemental. Awareness cannot occur freely if we would like our experience to be other than it is.
Intentional. Mindfulness always includes an intention to direct attention somewhere. Returning attention to the present moment gives mindfulness continuity over time.
Participant observation. Mindfulness is our detached witnessing. It is experiencing the mind and body more intimately
Intention – personal goal or vision.
Attention – focus on internal and external experience
Attitude – equanimity and acceptance
Effect of mindfulness on the counselling process.
- Active attention. Counsellors can increase their ability to concentrate attention as well as be receptive to the client in a non-judgmental and accepting manner.
- Slowing the process down. “ in most psychodynamic treatments there is a rush toward meaning, leaving the present moment behind.” Stern (2004, p. 140) Slowing the process down to experience and take in that experience is the heart of the transformative moments in counselling.
- Self-regulation. Increases counsellor’s curiosity to their own affective responses in the session in order to tolerate that experience. This increases the counsellors ability to be present to the clients experience and strong emotions.
- Attunement. Mindfulness increases empathic attunement to the client’s emotional, cognitive and somatic communications. Attunement creates a secure base as a mindful practice facilitates affect regulation and increases counsellors ability to be attuned to themselves and their clients.