In 2017, Goldberg conducted a thorough review of literature related to the link between counseling psychology and mindfulness and presented his analysis of the findings in the article, “Why Mindfulness Belongs in Counseling Psychology.” Counseling psychology is aimed at increasing individuals’ well-being in different ways. Many various discussions take place in the area of counseling psychology, and one of them is concerned with the issue of identity. One more area of psychology that handles the issue of identity is called mindfulness. The purpose of Goldberg’s article is to investigate how these two areas, namely, mindfulness and counseling psychology, overlap in terms of theory, ideology, and practice. The author also aims at extending the synergy between the two fields and provides recommendations for further research and the use of mindfulness in counseling psychology.
The author searched Google Scholar to find out how the researchers’ interest in mindfulness changed over the period from 1982 to 2015. To get this information, Goldberg (2017) looked for the articles published in this period, which contained the term “mindfulness,” and related them to those containing the word “psychotherapy.” After that, he compared the number of articles that included the term “mindfulness” to the number of publications printed in famous psychological journals. The list of journals included the Journal of Counseling Psychology, Counselling Psychology Quarterly, The Counseling Psychologist, Psychotherapy Research, and Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
The Google Scholar search results were presented in the form of a chart and a textual description. From 1982 to 2015, 35 articles published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology (JCP) contained the term “mindfulness.” In The Counseling Psychologist (TCP), 39 such articles were published, and, in Counselling Psychology Quarterly (CPQ), 41 articles with this term were printed. The findings also show that most of these publications appeared in 2014-2015. In JCP, 57.1% of such articles were printed within these two years. For TCP, the rate is 41%, and, for CRQ, the percentage is 17.1%. Psychotherapy Research (PR) and Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (JCCP) have displayed interest in the topic of mindfulness since 2000, but the extent of their concern about the subject has not increased much. CPQ demonstrated the highest interest in this research area compared to the other journals under consideration. These findings indicate that researchers become more and more concerned about the place of mindfulness within counseling psychology.
The increased amount of studies of mindfulness in the area of counseling psychology may be related to a significant overlap between these two fields. The author outlined the major principles of counseling psychology to further compare them to the features of mindfulness and find similarities. According to the APA Handbook of Counseling Psychology, a counseling psychologist should combine practice, research, and theory, address ethical and legal issues, deal with diversity in terms of gender, race, and culture, and understand professional development (as cited in Goldberg, 2017). The article refers to other important publications that emphasize diversity, social justice, and the concentration on strengths as key principles of counseling psychology.
Upon defining the main values of the given branch of psychology, the article went on searching for the overlap between that area and mindfulness. First of all, both counseling psychology interventions and mindfulness-based interventions belong to psychological interventions. Secondly, both counseling psychology and mindfulness concentrate on strengths. Counseling psychologists work not only with their clients’ problems; they aim and identifying, accepting, and enhancing their clients’ strengths. Specific psychotherapies, such as Roger’s client-centered psychotherapy, are based on discovering what their clients are good at and using this information to achieve positive outcomes. Mindfulness is also focused on strengths since it implies that all individuals have an innate capability to heal themselves. The practices of mindfulness engage people in complete self-acceptance.
Thirdly, counseling psychology and mindfulness have relationships with positive psychology. Recently, studies in counseling psychology have largely been focused on such themes as self-efficacy, happiness, motivation, and accomplishment. The author of the article believes that mindfulness could become another focus of counseling psychology because it fosters well-being. Since mindfulness is a positive quality, it could be used in clinical practice along with already used positive characteristics, such as spirituality or empathy. Finally, both counseling psychology and mindfulness are concerned about non-clinical populations. Counseling psychologists are interested in fostering well-being among individuals who do not have any psychological disorders. Likewise, mindfulness-based techniques are intended to help ordinary people to cope with stress, thus improving their health. Although practices based on mindfulness are generally not designed as part of psychotherapy, they could be used in this way because they reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase self-compassion.
The author of the article emphasizes that, although certain similarities between counseling psychology and mindfulness are recognized, the true benefit of their interrelation is still not used to the full extent. Goldberg (2017) argues that the cooperation between these two areas should be discovered since the combined use of them may bring psychologists more benefits than their separate use. In the author’s opinion, counseling psychology and mindfulness have significant contributions to make to each other.
Counseling may benefit mindfulness in terms of social justice and multiculturalism, process and results of psychotherapy, as well as training and supervision. Media have shaped mindfulness and interventions based on it as characteristic of people who are white, attractive, and young. Counseling psychologists can address this issue by studying the experiences that minorities have regarding mindfulness-based interventions and developing ways of making these practices more accessible and effective. Further, there is often a lack of scientific reasoning in using mindfulness-based interventions as a treatment; instead, researchers have focused on studying their cognitive, biological, and psychological mechanisms. If counseling psychologists began studying the use of mindfulness-based techniques in psychotherapy, they would be able to estimate its treatment efficiency and predict outcomes. Counseling psychologists could also contribute to research in mindfulness by identifying groups of individuals who are likely to benefit from mindfulness-based interventions the most and comparing such treatment with other psychotherapies. Finally, counseling psychologists could determine what competencies should therapists have to administer mindfulness-based interventions and how these specialists should be trained.
Counseling psychology can make several contributions to mindfulness, but it also has something to gain from this area. First of all, mindfulness-based interventions can be included in a set of psychotherapies that counseling psychologists use in their clinical practice. Secondly, mindfulness provides counseling psychologists with a number of effective tools for reducing stress and promoting well-being. Therefore, it can help counseling psychology to achieve one of its goals, which is to prevent psychological disorders and improve individuals’ health.
The third way of how mindfulness can benefit counseling psychology is in terms of training and supervision. The article emphasized that counseling psychologists should be able to administer self-care in order to prevent burnout and other risks related to their profession. However, they are usually not trained enough to perform self-care. Training psychologists to use mindfulness-based techniques for self-care could be a possible way out of this situation. Mindfulness can also help counseling psychologists to develop significant professional competencies, such as relationships and reflective practice. Mindfulness-based training can teach psychology graduates to be aware of their emotional experiences, express their feelings, and demonstrate empathetic listening, which are important skills for counseling psychologists.
The capability of mindfulness to affect counseling psychology has been proved by several studies. Grepmair with colleagues compared the outcomes of therapies performed by psychologists who were provided with meditation instructions and those who were not involved in such practices (as sited in Goldberg, 2017). They found that clients of those psychologists who engaged in meditation showed a more significant decrease in psychological symptoms and were more satisfied with therapies. The article cites another research proving that the clients of psychologists having a high level of trait mindfulness gained more benefit from therapies than clients of other psychologists did.
After analyzing the coincidence between mindfulness and counseling psychology and their possible contributions to each other, the article provides recommendations for future research. The first suggestion is that counseling psychologists should take part in the development of mindfulness-based interventions. They should also test and disseminate these interventions, as well as apply them to underserved segments of the population, such as ethnic minorities. With regard to multiculturalism and social justice, counseling psychologists should develop interventions that will consider clients’ cultural diversity. Additionally, these professionals should investigate whether mindfulness-based interventions are fit for prevention programs.
The article states that the existing studies of mindfulness-based interventions are focused on the results of these therapies. Therefore, the second recommendation is that counseling psychologists should pay more attention to studying the process of administering these interventions and defining factors that influence the outcomes of these therapies. The author’s third suggestion is that counseling psychologists should be involved in a discussion of how clinicians should be trained to perform mindfulness-based interventions. It is supposed to affect not only practicing psychologists but also psychology graduates preparing for entering clinical practice. They would be expected to demonstrate the knowledge of mindfulness-based techniques along with broadly used therapies.
Fourthly, counseling psychologists are recommended to study the ways in which teaching clinicians to deliver mindfulness-based therapies and educating them about trait mindfulness may improve the outcomes of therapies for clients. Possible research directions in this area include the influence of mindfulness training on administering self-care, developing interpersonal skills, and increasing multicultural awareness. The last suggestion is that counseling psychologists should research mindfulness as a character trait and make efforts to identify and develop this quality in their clients. The position of counseling psychologists allows them to explore how mindfulness interacts with other traits that are better studied, for example, motivation or self-esteem. The exploration of the relationships between mindfulness and other qualities could be used to predict such outcomes as healthy lifestyles, academic perseverance, or the quality of life. Finally, counseling psychologists can investigate whether mindfulness has its place in theories of change.
Goldberg, S. B. (2017). Why mindfulness belongs in counseling psychology: A synergistic clinical and research agenda. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 31(3), 317-335. doi:10.1080/09515070.2017.1314250