Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School Psychology

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Mindfulness and loving-kindness are two concepts with associated meditation exercises that have been evaluated as part of mindfulness-based treatment approaches (MBTAs) to improve mental health. A common MBTA, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) includes multiple component exercises including mindful breathing meditation (MBM), and loving-kindness meditation (LKM). The purpose of the present study was to examine differential effects of MBM and LKM on the proposed process variables of social connectedness, cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance, present moment awareness, affect, and compassion for self and others, as well as across outcomes measures of general anxiety, social anxiety, depression, and wellbeing. Additionally the study determined if changes in outcomes were predicted by changes in theoretically related process variables. Differences in, and effects of, previous meditation experience (PME), treatment integrity (TI), and treatment acceptability (TA) by condition were also explored. The research design was a randomized controlled trial with four conditions: MBM, LKM, Combined (MBM and LKM), and Relaxation. The interventions consisted of a once daily 10-minute audio-assisted exercise, completed for two weeks. Findings revealed a statistically significant therapeutic effect of time regardless of condition. Consideration of effect sizes further indicated that MBM and LKM had greater therapeutic effects than Combined and Relaxation, with therapeutic differences between conditions ranging from small to large. Results for the total sample also showed that changes in process variables predicted changes in various outcomes. Finally, although PME, TI, and TA did not differ between conditions, TA did predict changes in depression. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

Date

6-18-2018

Committee Chair

Renshaw, Tyler

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