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Mindful awareness and compassion, and empathy and anxiety in counselor trainees

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Cheryl L. Fulton (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Advisor
Craig Cashwell

Abstract: This study explored the relationships between two aspect of mindfulness, awareness and compassion, and empathy and anxiety in counselor trainees. Empathy and anxiety are two training variables that have strong associations with counseling performance. Empathy is widely regarded as important for the effective development of a therapeutic relationship and positive counseling outcomes while a higher level of anxiety in trainees can impede the cultivation of empathy and the development of counselor self-efficacy. Currently, there is little to guide educators in how to cultivate genuine empathy and also mitigate unproductive levels of anxiety in trainees. Mindfulness has been proposed as a potential method for addressing both empathy and anxiety, however, empirical evidence for these associations with counselors is limited. Additionally, the relative contribution of the compassion wing of mindfulness has been relatively unstudied. In this study, the relationships between mindful awareness and compassion and empathy and anxiety were examined. A total of 131 master's level counseling interns were surveyed to determine their levels of mindful awareness, mindful compassion, empathy, and anxiety using the Five-Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire, the Self Other Four Immeasurables, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, and the Trimodal Anxiety Questionnaire. Pearson Product Moment Coefficients revealed significant pairwise relationships between mindful awareness and compassion and anxiety in the expected directions. Mindful awareness and compassion for others had a significant relationship with cognitive empathy in the expected directions. Compassion for others had a significant relationship with affective empathy in the expected direction. In a linear regression model, awareness and compassion explained a modest amount of variance in affective empathy with compassion for others contributing significantly. Linear regression also revealed that awareness and compassion explained a moderate amount of variance in cognitive empathy with nonjudge, nonreact, and compassion for others emerging as significant predictors. A substantial amount of the variance in anxiety was explained by awareness, with describe, act with awareness, and nonjudge facets emerging as significant predictors. A hierarchal regression indicated that mindful compassion increased the variance explained in affective empathy, cognitive empathy, and anxiety, beyond that explained by mindful awareness alone, and offered the greatest increase for affective empathy.

Additional Information

Publication
Dissertation
Language: English
Date: 2012
Keywords
Compassion, Counselor anxiety, Counselor education, Counselor empathy, Counselor training, Mindfulness
Subjects
Counselor trainees $x Psychology
Anxiety
Awareness
Compassion
Empathy