Mindfulness, Self-Care, and Wellness in Social Work: Effects of Contemplative Training

Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought

Volume 30, 2011 – Issue 3: Social Work, Spirituality, and Social Practices

The demands placed on human service workers in supporting people through challenging circumstances can contribute to high levels of stress and burnout. Self-care practices implemented regularly may decrease the impact of the high levels of stress while also serving as strategies for coping during particularly stressful times. The interconnections between contemplative practices, including mindfulness, as coping and preventative strategies for self-care practice among human service workers are beginning to emerge. We used a multimethod study to examine the effectiveness of eight weeks of contemplative practice training in increasing self-care, awareness, and coping strategies for 12 human service workers. Paired t-tests conducted on pre- and post-training scores on the Perceived Stress Scale and the Mindfulness Attention and Awareness Scale showed that mindfulness was significantly increased and that stress significantly decreased over the intervention. Thematic analysis from participant journaling and a focus group discussion suggests that time, permission, and place for learning and practicing mindfulness-based activities are necessary. A meditative model is presented to illustrate how enhanced awareness through mindfulness practice can increase self-care which can, in turn, positively affect the service human service workers provide to their clients.

Mindfulness, Self-Compassion, and Empathy Among Health Care Professionals: A Review of the Literature

Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy

Volume 20, 2014 – Issue 3


The relationship between mindfulness and self-compassion is explored in the health care literature, with a corollary emphasis on reducing stress in health care workers and providing compassionate patient care. Health care professionals are particularly vulnerable to stress overload and compassion fatigue due to an emotionally exhausting environment. Compassion fatigue among caregivers in turn has been associated with less effective delivery of care. Having compassion for others entails self-compassion. In Kristin Neff’s research, self-compassion includes self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and mindfulness. Both mindfulness and self-compassion involve promoting an attitude of curiosity and nonjudgment towards one’s experiences. Research suggests that mindfulness interventions, particularly those with an added lovingkindness component, have the potential to increase self-compassion among health care workers. Enhancing focus on developing self-compassion using MBSR and other mindfulness interventions for health care workers holds promise for reducing perceived stress and increasing effectiveness of clinical care.

Confessions of a depressed psychologist: I am in a darker place than my patients