A content analysis of peer-reviewed journal articles: How is mindfulness applied in couples therapy in the mental health field?
ABSTRACT LORI J. RUNGE M.S.
A CONTENT ANALYSIS OF PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES: HOW IS MINDFULNESS APPLIED IN COUPLES THERAPY IN THE MENTAL HEALTH FIELD?
The rationale behind this study is to understand how mental health professionals currently use and apply mindfulness in couples therapy. This study was guided by two primary research questions: “Since 2000, how are mindfulness interventions and techniques applied in couples therapy in the mental health profession with relationship to understanding variables such as well-being, empathy, self-esteem, and emotional regulation?” and “How have researchers explored and expanded the usefulness of mindfulness in evidenced based research journals specific to couple therapy in the mental health profession with particular examination on relationship satisfaction?”
This study included articles retrieved from peer reviewed scholarly research journals with emphasis on the mental health profession. Articles that were published between 2000-2017 with content pertaining to mindfulness in couples therapy were retrieved for analysis. There were 13 peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles that met the final criteria for inclusion in this study. The coding procedure began by developing a coding form to assist the coding team in analyzing the collected data. The final sample of 13 articles were then coded for relevant information applicable to mindfulness in couples therapy. Three major themes emerged from the coding process; mindfulness was found to have a positive effect in relationship satisfaction, emotional reactivity and acceptance and awareness. These themes give insight into how mindfulness is being applied and used in the mental health field in couples therapy. The potential benefits of mindfulness on relationships have only recently begun to be explored. The results of this content analysis have multiple implications for researchers to add to the understanding and application of mindfulness in the mental health profession with emphasis on the benefits of mindfulness in regard to relationships. In summary, mindfulness is not just a tool or technique, it is a way of being (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). Shapiro and Carlson (2017) stated that, “Mindfulness is both a process (mindful practice) and an outcome (mindful awareness)” (p. 10). Understanding that mindfulness has tools and techniques that can be taught to individuals and couples to benefit their lives can be confusing due to the fact that there is not a definitive understanding of the mechanisms underlying the positive changes reported in research study results. Blending ancient philosophies of the East into the Western world of modern science is indeed encircled with challenges; and yet the possibilities of bringing these two epistemologies together creates enormous potential and opportunities to diminish the suffering of clients in the mental health profession.