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Mindfulness Approach for a Sentenced Female Client Essay

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Updated: Jul 2nd, 2022

Short Summary

Sophie is a young female who is serving a three-year sentence for a drug-related offense. Her current condition is relatively unstable, as she is rather worried about her son and the inability to comfort him. As a person from a foster home, she learned not to trust anyone but agreed to partner with a man named Alexei to smuggle drugs. Based on the existing information, Sophie definitely regrets developing a relationship that has led her to serve time in prison. She is willing to transform her attitude to become a better version of herself and overcome the lack of mental powers.

Possible Causes for the Problems

The first element that has to be mentioned here is the presence of biased vigilance that makes Sophie prone to perceiving situations in particular ways. From the mindfulness perspective, Sophie remains attached to some of her issues from the past, not willing to identify her attachment to the past and accept reality as it is. Due to the biased vigilance, she lacks the ability to act in her best interest and employ beneficial solutions (Bajaj, Robins and Pande, 2016). Instead of remaining impartial, Sophie needs to focus on one or two problems that avert her from seeing what is best for her. Personal experiences may be extremely hard to turn into impartial events that can be assessed in an objective manner as well (Hofmann and Gómez, 2017). This is why Sophie currently has trouble accepting the responsibility for her actions, even if she states that she is willing to change.

The next episode that has to be reviewed within the framework of the current paper is Sophie being conceptually aware of the possible issues with mental health and interpersonal relationships. Her cognitive processes seem to run effortlessly, but she is not used to resorting to behaviors that would only let her sit back and observe what is happening around her. This is also discussed in the literature on the subject as the capability of staying away from categorizing the world or labeling others for their past or present (Strohmaier, Jones and Cane, 2021). From the mindfulness point of view, Sophie lacks pure awareness, depriving herself of the opportunity to experience the benefits of observing how events unfold instead of attempting to resolve the problem. The case proves that Sophie is curious enough to begin the transformation, but she is also afraid to take the first step forward.

Another type of awareness that Sophie clearly does not have is the present-moment awareness. The key benefit of this type of awareness, from the point of view of mindfulness, is the improved ability to listen to one’s emotions, corporal sensations, and thoughts (Medvedev et al., 2018). At the moment, Sophie mostly tends to reconnect with her past moments instead of thinking about the present or the future. One of the reasons why Sophie lacks this present-moment awareness is the high pace of her life that forced her into a situation where she became emotionally distant from matters the most. The distance between Sophie’s past and presence is objectively small because she is not willing to let go of her past decisions and mistakes. According to Whitehead et al. (2019), this is a crucial mistake because most of Sophie’s reflections represent a subjective setup created inside her brain and not a realistic scenario. Sophie does not try to notice her presence, as she is still living in the past, and it bothers her.

The ultimate problem that Sophie currently has to cope with is the egotistic alertness that leaves less room for maneuvers and blocks her internal perceptions of senses, thoughts, and feelings. As it is stated by Falsafi (2016), all humans tend to perceive their surroundings through the prism of their subjectivity. Therefore, any attempts to understand the world revolve around the idea that one should remain as non-egotistic as possible while also developing an objective outlook on what happens around them. Sophie does not make any demands, as she is somewhat lost in her own thoughts and emotions. From the point of mindfulness, this is a serious issue because it deprives Sophie of a varied observational stance that would help her assess the past from a different perspective (Breedvelt et al., 2019). Sophie also experiences significant challenges when letting her pain go, as she experiences most of the sensations by letting them go through her. She needs to become less reactive in order to get rid of the abundance of tangible egotistic awareness.

Factors Maintaining the Problems

Based on the information presented above, it may be claimed that the primary factor maintaining the issue is Sophie’s inability to cultivate awareness. Even though she is willing to change her outlook on life, it is still evident that her thoughts about the past represent a significant threat to her well-being. She is afraid to come back to her past experiences, and it causes her to ponder upon her previous mistakes, creating a vicious circle consisting of subjective thoughts and feelings. Sophie’s attempts to get rid of negative thoughts are involuntary, which makes it essential to cultivate her awareness.

The next idea that stems from the lack of awareness is Sophie’s unwillingness to pay more attention to the present moment. The feelings of grief and resentment seem to plague her mind, as she is recurrently coming back to stating that she misses her son and does not want to associate herself with drugs anymore. Sophie does not know how to avoid going beyond merely observing thoughts, as her unconscious intentions are to resolve the problem instead of letting it go over her head. Every sensation that arises when Sophie thinks about the past, she lets it through herself, which only causes suffering and more misunderstanding.

The least influential factor contributing to Sophie’s current condition is a judgmental attitude that averts her from seeing the world in its true colors. Most of her thoughts leave her preoccupied with the past, and Sophie overlooks the possibility of spreading positivity and kindness when she resorts to condemnatory thoughts and actions. On the other hand, it may be seen as a positive factor as well because Sophie is curious enough to overcome past mistakes and find ways of becoming a better person. The idea is that Sophie’s proneness to judge everything around her reduces her chances of finding objective answers to most personal questions.

Factors Intended to Facilitate Change

The first practice that can be described as essential for Sophie is the mindfulness meditation practice. In the literature, the latter is described as one of the essential ways of making sense of daily life and stepping away from perceiving the world as a threat where no one can be trusted (Yang et al., 2019). Sophie’s well-being would be expected to improve significantly under the influence of mindfulness meditation, as she would get a chance to ponder upon her past experiences while detaching herself from those traumatic scenarios. Another benefit of mindfulness meditation outlined in the literature is improved brain functioning and structure (Lee and Zelman, 2019). It might be a tough task for Sophie to engage in regular practice, but the positive outcomes would become the key motivating factor. The counselor could focus on mindfulness to let Sophie understand the value of stepping away from daily trifles and reconnecting with her inner self.

Irrespective of the fact that Sophie currently serves a three-year prison sentence, the counselor might also advocate for assisting her in integrating mindfulness into her day-to-day life. The rationale behind this action would be to get Sophie acquainted with breathing exercises and an updated lifestyle that revolved around homework activities and the need to develop a better relationship with the world (Takahashi et al., 2019). A possible factor intended to facilitate change in Sophie’s behavior would be the application of the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy intended to introduce Sophie to calming activities and the importance of remaining aware of what goes on around her (Blanck et al., 2018). Sophie should address mindfulness meditation practices as something that goes beyond formal counseling treatment, as it would have a thorough impact on her daily life and, most probably, affect her mental and physical health. Nevertheless, each practice should be relatable so as not to cause a relapse.

Sophie’s willingness to overcome her emotional distress is another crucial variable because it contributes to a thorough deconstruction of the fear of living in the present. From the point of view of the evidence on the subject of mindfulness practices, it means that a person may evade any kind of distress by merely stepping away from the multifaceted nature of their existence and dividing it into physical sensations, thoughts, and emotional states (Elhai et al., 2018). Sophie is an anxious person, so mindfulness could become a way for her to overcome past fears and develop an improved relationship with the world. She would be working through every thought and emotion that averted her from living a ‘normal’ life previously. Numerous symptoms of the major depressive disorder that the counselor identified in Sophie could be translated into a positive experience after all. Sophie should make more attempts aimed at translating her thoughts about the past into a set of objective characteristics of her personality.

Another way to facilitate change in Sophie’s behaviors could be the application of mindfulness meditation with the help of separating herself from any of the past symptoms. Every negative thought should be perceived by Sophie as yet another symptom that can be easily overcome when approached from several different perspectives (Rodrigues, Nardi and Levitan, 2017). Even though she is feeling entitled to find answers to her questions, the essential task for the counselor would be to expose the client to several real-life scenarios and help her start thinking rationally. If Sophie reports any of the issues related to her imprisonment and the inability to meet her son as personal and permanent, she will not be able to step away from her own partiality. Negative thoughts are symptoms that have to be worked through with the counselor because otherwise, Sophie is going to experience another loop of adverse thinking (Frostadottir and Dorjee, 2019). Accordingly, mindfulness is the best option for Sophie because it would help her gain insight into her own behavioral and thinking patterns and break the chains of the lack of awareness.

The last factor intended to facilitate change in Sophie’s view of the world is the impact of mindfulness techniques on how she would act in response to any potential challenges in the future. The core idea behind mindfulness-based counseling is to help the client start responding to symptoms instead of actually reacting to them (Roos, Bowen and Witkiewitz, 2017). The latter is a dangerous practice because it reinforces the subjective view of the world, so Sophie would not be able to transform her life if she never stepped away from reacting to all the negativity that occurred to her. As soon as Sophie is going to gets a closer look at all the symptoms averting her from improved well-being, she will become much more self-compassionate and kind (Maxwell and Duff, 2016). Sophie’s self-destructive approaches from the past will be demolished, and she is going to be less judgmental as well.

Ideas and Interventions

Given all the positive and negative factors discussed above, it may be concluded that the best possible solution for the current case would be to implement several mindfulness-based interventions. The latter would be delivered via a multitude of techniques and practices intended to create a strong therapeutic alliance and the willingness to change displayed by the client (Farias, Wikholm and Delmonte, 2016; McIndoo et al., 2016). In this case, the core task to be completed by the counselor would be to guide Sophie toward a stronger focus on the present instead of keeping up with her past experiences. The counselor would have to find several particular phenomena to zone in on, as Sophie is unsure about her future and displays a relatively erratic behavior that cannot be predicted at the moment. The initial mindfulness training should revolve around encouragement and attention re-focus (Dhillon, Sparkes and Duarte, 2017; Sizoo and Kuiper, 2017). It would be important for the counselor to protect Sophie from extensive self-judgment and negative outlooks. It is also important to mention here that mindfulness could be achieved even without meditation, so the latter is not a required element of the proposed therapy.

Mindfulness is a crucial technique for Sophie and the counselor because it might help the client overcome the experiences that caused her depressive states in the past. According to Carlson (2016) and Veehof et al. (2016), the most important trait of mindfulness-based therapy that has to be covered within the framework of the current case is the significance of maintaining control over one’s behaviors. Sophie could benefit from short meditation or yoga sessions intended to bring her closer to becoming aware of physical sensations running through her body and affecting her well-being (Li and Bressington, 2019; Proeve, Anton and Kenny, 2018). The counselor would be responsible for seeking additional exercises to introduce Sophie to other types of awareness, such as breathing and movement. The methods of guided imagery and body scan may be considered appropriate in Sophie’s case, as she shows signs of quick improvement (Helmes and Ward, 2017; Sundquist et al., 2019). Despite being in prison, Sophie could practice mindfulness on a daily basis, setting herself apart from what got her into trouble in the first place. The client’s essential objective would be to explore her emotions and sensations to modify behaviors and thoughts to become less dependent on what happened in the past.

References

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Blanck, P. et al. (2018) ‘Effects of mindfulness exercises as a stand-alone intervention on symptoms of anxiety and depression: systematic review and meta-analysis’, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 102, pp. 25-35.

Breedvelt, J. J. et al. (2019) ‘The effects of meditation, yoga, and mindfulness on depression, anxiety, and stress in tertiary education students: a meta-analysis’, Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, p. 193.

Carlson, L. E. (2016) ‘Mindfulness‐based interventions for coping with cancer, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1373(1), pp. 5-12.

Dhillon, A., Sparkes, E. and Duarte, R. V. (2017) ‘Mindfulness-based interventions during pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis’, Mindfulness, 8(6), pp. 1421-1437.

Elhai, J. D. et al. (2018) ‘Distress tolerance and mindfulness mediate relations between depression and anxiety sensitivity with problematic smartphone use’, Computers in Human Behavior, 84, pp. 477-484.

Falsafi, N. (2016) ‘A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness versus yoga: effects on depression and/or anxiety in college students, Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 22(6), 483-497.

Farias, M., Wikholm, C. and Delmonte, R. (2016) ‘What is mindfulness-based therapy good for? Evidence, limitations and controversies’, Lancet Psychiatry, 3(11), pp. 1012-1013.

Frostadottir, A. D. and Dorjee, D. (2019) ‘Effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and compassion focused therapy (CFT) on symptom change, mindfulness, self-compassion, and rumination in clients with depression, anxiety, and stress’, Frontiers in Psychology, 10, p. 1099.

Helmes, E. and Ward, B. G. (2017) ‘Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for anxiety symptoms in older adults in residential care, Aging & Mental Health, 21(3), pp. 272-278.

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Lee, F. K. and Zelman, D. C. (2019) ‘Boredom proneness as a predictor of depression, anxiety and stress: the moderating effects of dispositional mindfulness’, Personality and Individual Differences, 146, pp. 68-75.

Li, S. Y. H. and Bressington, D. (2019) ‘The effects of mindfulness‐based stress reduction on depression, anxiety, and stress in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis, International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 28(3), pp. 635-656.

Maxwell, L. and Duff, E. (2016) ‘Mindfulness: an effective prescription for depression and anxiety, The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12(6), pp. 403-409.

McIndoo, C. C. et al. (2016) ‘Mindfulness-based therapy and behavioral activation: a randomized controlled trial with depressed college students’, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 77, pp. 118-128.

Medvedev, O. N. et al. (2018) ‘Investigating unique contributions of dispositional mindfulness facets to depression, anxiety, and stress in general and student populations’, Mindfulness, 9(6), pp. 1757-1767.

Proeve, M., Anton, R. and Kenny, M. (2018) ‘Effects of mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy on shame, self‐compassion and psychological distress in anxious and depressed patients: a pilot study, Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 91(4), pp. 434-449.

Rodrigues, M. F., Nardi, A. E. and Levitan, M. (2017) ‘Mindfulness in mood and anxiety disorders: a review of the literature, Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, 39(3), pp. 207-215.

Roos, C. R., Bowen, S. and Witkiewitz, K. (2017) ‘Baseline patterns of substance use disorder severity and depression and anxiety symptoms moderate the efficacy of mindfulness-based relapse prevention, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(11), p. 1041.

Sizoo, B. B. and Kuiper, E. (2017) ‘Cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction may be equally effective in reducing anxiety and depression in adults with autism spectrum disorders, Research in Developmental Disabilities, 64, pp. 47-55.

Strohmaier, S., Jones, F. W. and Cane, J. E. (2021) ‘Effects of the length of mindfulness practice on mindfulness, depression, anxiety, and stress: a randomized controlled experiment’, Mindfulness, 12(1), pp. 198-214.

Sundquist, J. et al. (2019) ‘Long‐term improvements after mindfulness‐based group therapy of depression, anxiety and stress and adjustment disorders: a randomized controlled trial’, Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 13(4), pp. 943-952.

Takahashi, T. et al. (2019) ‘Changes in depression and anxiety through mindfulness group therapy in Japan: the role of mindfulness and self-compassion as possible mediators’, BioPsychoSocial Medicine, 13(1), pp. 1-10.

Veehof, M. M. et al. (2016) ‘Acceptance-and mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of chronic pain: a meta-analytic review’, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 45(1), pp. 5-31.

Whitehead, R. et al. (2019) ‘Nonattachment mediates the relationship between mindfulness and psychological well-being, subjective well-being, and depression, anxiety and stress, Journal of Happiness Studies, 20(7), pp. 2141-2158.

Yang, X. et al. (2019) ‘Mobile phone addiction and adolescents’ anxiety and depression: the moderating role of mindfulness’, Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(3), pp. 822-830.

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