Loyola University Maryland

Emerging Scholars

Jon Gorman, Jen L. Lowry, Ph.D., Mary Jo Coiro, Ph.D., Matthew W. Kirkhart, Ph.D.

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Dispositional Mindfulness as a Predictor of Psychotherapy Outcome

Objective

Mindfulness has been demonstrated to predict aspects of current psychological functioning, and increases in mindfulness predict improvements in psychological functioning; yet, trait mindfulness has never been examined as a predictor of psychotherapeutic change. The present study examines whether the Acting with Awareness (AA) and Nonjudging (NJ) facets of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) predict psychotherapy outcome, as defined by the Phase Model for improvement in psychotherapy.

Methods

Eighty outpatients at a university counseling center completed the FFMQ and the Psychotherapy Outcome Assessment and Monitoring System (POAMS) at intake, as well as over the course of treatment. Participants were split into high and low mindfulness groups according to a median split on their AA and NJ scores at intake. Participants’ scores on the Global Mental Health (GMH) scale of the POAMS were compared between intake and termination (M = 7.49 sessions, SD = 4.40)

Results

Repeated measures analyses of variance with GMH as the dependent variable indicated a main effect of time (F = 23.41, p < .001) with all participants improving over time, and a main effect of the AA facet of mindfulness (F = 11.87, p = .001) with adults with higher mindfulness reporting higher psychological functioning, but no time x mindfulness interaction (F = .015, p = .903). Similar results were obtained for the NJ facet. Participants’ mindfulness scores did not change on either facet between intake and session 4, supporting claims of mindfulness as a trait (AA: t = .27, ns; NJ: t = -1.11, ns).

Conclusion

Clients with greater mindfulness report better psychological functioning, but do not appear to make greater improvements over the course of psychotherapy. Further analyses will examine these patterns only for those individuals who were in therapy for at least four sessions, and by grouping the sample according to both AA and NJ.