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Employees experiences of a brief workplace mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) intervention in a local authority setting

Doherty-Kelly, D. (2019). Employees experiences of a brief workplace mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) intervention in a local authority setting. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Mindfulness Based Interventions (MBI’s) have been adapted for workplace settings in recent years. Despite the large number of studies conducted exploring the efficacy of MBI’s, previous research has yielded varied results, and the specific mechanisms by which MBCT leads to positive change remain unclear. There is very little qualitative research exploring employees’ experiences of workplace MBCT interventions, or the impact of such interventions. If MBCT is to be considered as a workplace intervention, research must clarify the process underlying participant’s use and experience, as well as the acceptability of such workplace interventions.

The current study aims to
• explore public sector employee's experiences and reflections of a brief MBCT intervention.
• examine whether participants found the brief intervention useful and how participants used mindfulness.
• explore any difficulties that participants encountered when practicing mindfulness.

Semi structured individual interviews were conducted with twelve participants. The data generated from the interviews was analysed using a thematic analysis approach. Additional quantitative data was collected, such as the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12).

The following four themes emerged from the twelve interviews: (1) effects of the mindfulness intervention, (2) implementation of mindfulness (3) sharing group experiences and disseminating mindfulness to others and (4) challenges of practice. Overall, most participants felt that they benefited from the intervention, there was an ability to reappraise life situations, increased acceptance, greater attention and awareness of actions, thoughts, and emotions, living more actively in the present moment, a calmer attitude, as well as improved sleep. However, quantitative data indicated lower mean scores of GHQ-12, but only small changes in the mindfulness mean scores post intervention. Participants that attended the intervention integrated mindfulness practice in a variety of ways, some participants integrated formal structured practice within their daily routines, other participants chose to use mindfulness as and when they felt it was required, such as when they needed to relax, or were required to deal with a difficult situation. Finally, some participants integrated mindfulness into their day to day activities and focused less on formal meditation. The intervention was not without challenges, participants noted the difficulty in finding the time to practice, maintaining focus while practising, applying mindfulness within the workplace and sometimes in the home environments also, and issues with course logistics. Implications for the role of brief MBCT as a workplace intervention are discussed.

This study contributes to the field of mindfulness in the workplace in three distinct ways: it offers an insight into the applicability and challenges of mindfulness workplace interventions including the flexibility of mindfulness techniques, it offers an exploration of the role relationships and peer support can offer within a brief MBCT intervention, and it also demonstrates an insight into the role of appraisals in participants who have engaged in a brief MBCT workplace intervention, and helped uncover areas to be explored in future studies. If there is an understanding of the mechanisms by which MBCT can be useful in the workplace, and what outcomes it may present then this is useful information for model development for such workplace interventions. Future workplace mindfulness research should explore the fidelity of MBCT interventions, the role that group dynamics, barriers and facilitators to practice can have on intervention outcomes. Future research should also focus on addressing the barriers to practice and establishing the longer-term effects of MBCT interventions.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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