Mindfulness-based art therapy (lit review)

Hinchey, Liza M. “Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy: A Review of the Literature.” Inquiries Journal, vol. 10, no. 5, 2018. Full text.

Abstract. This review discusses Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy research to date. A literature review first explores mindfulness and art therapy independently, then investigates the current research on the combination of these two modalities used with clients with mental and emotional issues, physical illnesses, self-acceptance/self-esteem, and personal relationships. According to the current research, this therapeutic modality has shown to be beneficial for many populations.

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Mindfulness training to reduce burnout in police officers (study protocol)

Trombka, Marcelo, et al., Study protocol of a multicenter randomized controlled trial of mindfulness training to reduce burnout and promote quality of life in police officers. BMC Psychiatry, 2018, vol. 18. no. 151, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1726-7. Full text.

Background. Police officers experience a high degree of chronic stress. Policing ranks among the highest professions in terms of disease and accident rates. Mental health is particularly impacted, evidenced by elevated rates of burnout, anxiety and depression, and poorer quality of life than the general public.

Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, burnout and promote quality of life in a variety of settings, although its efficacy in this context has yet to be systematically evaluated. Therefore, this trial will investigate the efficacy of a mindfulness-based intervention versus a waitlist control in improving quality of life and reducing negative mental health symptoms in police officers.

Mindfulness-based treatment of addiction: the next wave of research

Garland, E. L., & Howard, M. O. (2018). Mindfulness-based treatment of addiction: current state of the field and envisioning the next wave of research. Addiction science & clinical practice, vol. 13, no1, pp. 14, https://doi.org/10.1186/s13722-018-0115-3. Full text.

Abstract. Contemporary advances in addiction neuroscience have paralleled increasing interest in the ancient mental training practice of mindfulness meditation as a potential therapy for addiction. In the past decade, mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have been studied as a treatment for an array addictive behaviors, including drinking, smoking, opioid misuse, and use of illicit substances like cocaine and heroin.

This article reviews current research evaluating MBIs as a treatment for addiction, with a focus on findings pertaining to clinical outcomes and biobehavioral mechanisms. Studies indicate that MBIs reduce substance misuse and craving by modulating cognitive, affective, and psychophysiological processes integral to self-regulation and reward processing.

This integrative review provides the basis for manifold recommendations regarding the next wave of research needed to firmly establish the efficacy of MBIs and elucidate the mechanistic pathways by which these therapies ameliorate addiction. Issues pertaining to MBI treatment optimization and sequencing, dissemination and implementation, dose–response relationships, and research rigor and reproducibility are discussed.

Cognitively-Based Compassion Training in breast cancer survivors

Gonzalez-Hernandez, E., et al. (2018). Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Clinical Trial Study. Integrative cancer therapies, 1534735418772095. Online 21 Apr 2018. Full text.

From the Abstract. Context. Breast cancer (BC) requires a significant psychological adaptation once treatment is finished. There is growing evidence of how compassion training enhances psychological and physical well-being, however, there are very few studies analyzing the efficacy of compassion-based Interventions on BC survivors.

Objective. To study the efficacy of the Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) protocol in a BC survivor sample on quality of life, psychological well-being, fear of cancer recurrence, self-compassion, and compassion domains and mindfulness facets. Furthermore, enrollment, adherence, and satisfaction with the intervention were also analyzed. . . .

Results. Accrual of eligible participants was high (77%), and the drop-out rate was 16%. Attendance to CBCT sessions was high and practice off sessions exceeded expectations). CBCT was effective in diminishing stress caused by FCR, fostering self-kindness and common humanity, and increasing overall self-compassion scores, mindful observation, and acting with awareness skillsets.

Conclusion. CBCT could be considered a promising and potentially useful intervention to diminish stress caused by FCR and enhance self-kindness, common humanity,

Weight acceptance in people with obesity

Meyer, L. B., et al. (2018). (Dis-)solving the Weight Problem in Binge-Eating Disorder: Systemic Insights From Three Treatment Contexts With Weight Stability, Weight Loss, and Weight Acceptance. Qualitative health research. First published online: April 11, 2018.

Abstract. Binge-eating disorder (BED) is a severe eating disorder strongly associated with obesity. Treatments struggle to provide safe and effective ways of addressing weight in a BED context. This study explored a two-phased treatment for BED developed at a major out-patient eating disorder service in Denmark.

The study used interviews and participant observations to gain insight into experiences and processes related to weight and body issues in three treatment contexts that addressed weight stability, weight acceptance, and weight loss. Using systems theory, the study proposed a relational weight problem that embeds feelings of non-acceptance due to weight, a merge of weight and identity, and an internalized body- and weight-critical gaze of others.

Contrary to critical claims that weight acceptance discourages people with obesity from engaging in weight loss efforts, this study suggests that acceptance and a disentanglement of weight and identity are prerequisites for weight loss for this group.

Meditation and prosocial behaviors (review & meta-analysis)

Kreplin, U., Farias, M., & Brazil, I. A. (2018). The limited prosocial* effects of meditation: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific reports, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 2403, DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-20299-z. Full text.

 Abstract. Many individuals believe that meditation has the capacity to not only alleviate mental-illness but to improve prosociality. This article systematically reviewed and meta-analysed the effects of meditation interventions on prosociality in randomized controlled trials of healthy adults.

Five types of social behaviours were identified: compassion, empathy, aggression, connectedness and prejudice. Although we found a moderate increase in prosociality following meditation, further analysis indicated that this effect was qualified by two factors: type of prosociality and methodological quality.

Meditation interventions had an effect on compassion and empathy, but not on aggression, connectedness or prejudice. We further found that compassion levels only increased under two conditions: when the teacher in the meditation intervention was a co-author in the published study; and when the study employed a passive (waiting list) control group but not an active one.

Contrary to popular beliefs that meditation will lead to prosocial changes, the results of this meta-analysis showed that the effects of meditation on prosociality were qualified by the type of prosociality and methodological quality of the study. We conclude by highlighting a number of biases and theoretical problems that need addressing to improve quality of research in this area.

* Prosocial behavior, or “voluntary behavior intended to benefit another”, is a social behavior that “benefit[s] other people or society as a whole”, “such as helping, sharing, donating, co-operating, and volunteering” (Wikipedia).

Incorporating mindfulness into leadership

Mohapel, P. (2018). The neurobiology of focus and distraction: The case for incorporating mindfulness into leadership. In Healthcare Management Forum (p. 0840470417746414). SAGE Publications.

Abstract. Increasingly health leaders are experiencing greater demands and pressures, which require the need for better focus while limiting unwarranted distractions. This article offers a neurobiological explanation of how the brain focuses and becomes distracted, in order to help health leaders gain insight into their own effectiveness.

Two main neural circuits are contrasted: the mind-wandering default mode circuit and the attentional central executive system. These two systems act in an antagonistic pairing, where the degree of toggling between systems is associated with the degree a person can sustain focus and filter out unwarranted distractions. Excessive multitasking appears to compromise the neural switch of these two systems, thereby diminishing our focus and concentration. In contrast, mindfulness practice is shown to have the opposite effect by enhancing the neural switch, thereby enhancing leadership focus that can lead to greater flexibility, foresight, regulation, and creativity.

To conclude, leaders who are excessively distracted, such as with multitasking, may be compromising cognitive brain functioning, while engaging in mindfulness may replenish the brain and thereby enhance leaders’ ability to sustain focus and tap into higher cognitive functioning.