Relational Aspects of Mindfulness: Implications for the Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy

Relational Aspects of Mindfulness: Implications for the Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy

images (11)Laura Eubanks Gambrel • Margaret L. Keeling
Published online:31 August 2010
Springer Science+Business Media,LLC 2010

Abstract
Research has demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness interventions with individuals,including connections to increased life satisfaction,and positive affect.Mindfulness has effectively treated anxiety,borderline personality disorder,depression,chronic pain,and addiction.Recent studies show the positive effects of mindfulness on relationship satisfaction,empathy development,and skillful communication.We explore the potential benefits for integrating mindfulness,defined as nonjudgmental awareness,into the practice of marriage and family therapy.We argue that mindfulness may be useful with couples and families to improve communication,emotional regulation,empathy,and relationship well-being.Finally,we discuss practical ways of applying mindfulness in family therapy.
As irrigators lead water where they want,as archers make their arrows straight,as carpenters carve wood,the wise shape their minds(Dhammapada 6:80, trans. 1985).Intimate relationships can be fraught with pleasure and pain,so much so that happiness and physical health are integrally tied to the quality of these relationships(Amato 2000; Gottman and Notarius 2002;The National Institute on Aging 2008; Schoenborn 2004).Further,relationship satisfaction has been closely tied to life satisfaction and psychological health(Mikulincer and Shaver 2007; Peterson and Park 2007;Shapiro and Keyes 2008).Often,negative patterns of thought and behavior interfere with one’s ability to develop nourishing relationships with loved ones.For thousands of years,Buddhist teachings have outlined ways in which the mind and emotions can be brought into equanimity(Dhammapada,trans.1985),therefore enhancing one’s ability to skillfully navigate the challenges that come with romantic and familial love.Integrating the ancient technique of mindfulness into family therapy may be one way to help clients enhance the joys of intimate relationships.

Relational Aspects of Mindfulness: Implications for the Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy

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