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Few counseling programs directly address the importance of self-care in reducing stress and burnout in their curricula. A course entitled Mind/Body Medicine and the Art of Self-Care was created to address personal and professional growth opportunities through self-care and mindfulness practices (meditation, yoga, qigong, and conscious relaxation exercises). Three methods of evaluating this 15-week 3-credit mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course for counseling students indicated positive changes for students in learning how to manage stress and improve counseling practice. Students reported positive physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and interpersonal changes and substantial effects on their counseling skills and therapeutic relationships. Information from a focus group, qualitative reports, and quantitative course evaluations were triangulated; all data signified positive student responses to the course, method of teaching, and course instructor. Most students reported intentions of integrating mindfulness practices into their future profession.
Preparation for the role of therapist can occur on both professional and personal levels. Research has found that therapists are at risk for occupationally related psychological problems. It follows that self-care may be a useful complement to the professional training of future therapists. The present study examined the effects of one approach to self-care, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), for therapists in training. Using a prospective, cohort-controlled design, the study found participants in the MBSR program reported significant declines in stress, negative affect, rumination, state and trait anxiety, and significant increases in positive affect and self-compassion. Further, MBSR participation was associated with increases in mindfulness, and this enhancement was related to several of the beneficial effects of MBSR participation. Discussion highlights the potential for future research addressing the mental health needs of therapists and therapist trainees.