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Embodied relating and mindfulness: A phenomenological study of psychotherapist embodiment in counseling settings
AuthorJenkins, Janine Jenkins
AdvisorHarrison, Thomas C.
Counseling and Educational Psychology
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perspectives of 8 mindfulness-trained psychotherapists and their bodily experiences during the therapeutic encounter. Due to recent scientific discovery confirming the neural pathways that facilitate embodied affectivity, there is much speculation regarding subtle embodied forms of communication taking place between psychotherapists and their clients; however, there is scant research confirming the phenomenon and how bodily communication informs the counseling session. Through mindfulness training, the psychotherapists in this study have developed the capacity for sustained awareness making them uniquely qualified to discuss their internal experiences related to the therapeutic interaction. The 6 themes that emerged from the interviews are: states of mind, mindfulness/mindlessness; metacognitive awareness; bodily communication, resonance; self-care; and expanded awareness and growth. Discussion includes research findings and implications for mental health professionals as well as suggestions for future research.