NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Psychotherapy Blog: Psychotherapy and the Mindful Self: What is Mindfulness?

The use of mindfulness as part of psychotherapy has become increasingly popular over the last several years.  The popularity of mindfulness can be attributed, in large part, to the development of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) as well as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

Psychotherapy and the Mindful Self:  What is Mindfulness?

But for many people who are new to therapy or to mindfulness concepts, mindfulness still remains somewhat of a mystery.  So before I discuss the benefits of mindfulness, I thought it would be best to first define it as well as look at its origins.

What is Mindfulness?
The word "mindfulness" comes from the Pali word "sati," which means having awareness, attention and remembering.

Being in a mindful state involves getting quiet and having an awareness of the present moment.

When clients practice mindfulness, they have an awareness of their own internal and reflective states without attachment or judgment.

Psychotherapy and the Mindful Self:  What is Mindfulness?

According to the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, mindfulness enables a sense of connection with others.

He uses the term "interbeing," which is a Buddhist concept which says that by living in the present moment, one can experience the interconnection of all beings.

The Buddhist concept of "interbeing" is similar to the psychological concept of intersubjectivity.

In psychology, intersubjectivity refers to a relational form of therapy where the emphasis is on the intersubjective dynamic between the client and the therapist.

How is Mindfulness Similar to Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy and mindfulness can both:
  • help clients to develop the ability to understand their own as well as others'  behavior
  • emphasize the fluid and temporary nature of internal states
  • enhance emotional regulation and mental flexibility
  • allow clients to be aware in the present moment
  • emphasize the intersubjective dynamic between self and others
Mindfulness as a Resource in Psychotherapy
Since mindfulness can help clients to regulate their emotions, I often help clients to develop mindfulness as a resource in our sessions as well as in their everyday lives.

Mindfulness is especially helpful when clients are processing painful traumatic experiences in therapy.  It allows them to have a dual awareness of processing painful memories as well the present moment of being in therapy room with the therapist.

Mindfulness as a Resource in Psychotherapy

Rather than getting overwhelmed by difficult, powerful emotions, using mindfulness in therapy can help clients to experience these emotions at the same time that they develop an observing self.  This helps clients to manage their emotions.

In a future article, I'll discuss the benefits of using mindfulness in psychotherapy.

Getting Help in Therapy
Everyone needs help at some point in his or her own life.

If you're struggling with painful emotions that you've been unable to overcome on your own, you could benefit from attending therapy with a licensed mental health professional.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.