Early Career Group Psychologist Column

Mindfulness in groups

In August 2013, the Early Career Group hosted another in its successful series of conference calls, this one on mindfulness in groups.

By Joe Miles
On Aug. 17, 2013, the Early Career Group hosted another in its successful series of conference calls. This time the topic was mindfulness in groups. The call was very well attended, with over 40 group psychologists having RSVP’d to participate. Participants shared a variety of mindfulness techniques that they have found useful with group participants, including mindful eating exercises, guided imagery and breathing practice (e.g., the “three-minute breathing space”), observe/notice exercises (in the style of Linehan), mindful body scans (in the style of Kabat-Zinn), and mindful walking exercises (when space allows). 

Participants also discussed when and with whom mindfulness activities might be useful, including when there is a high level of trust, in longer-term groups, and when there is a high level of emotion in the group. Several participants cautioned that they have found mindfulness activities to be too triggering or activating for some clients (e.g., those who are very aroused due to trauma). Alternatively, with other clients, some activation may be desired. For example, one participant shared the use of mindfulness to help group members in an interpersonal neurobiology group to notice symptoms without catastrophizing them. Ultimately, it was suggested by several participants that group leaders talk about the use of mindfulness with group members, and should trust members to decide if participating in mindfulness activities is something that they want to do in group. 

A more detailed summary of the conference call is available through the Early Career Group. Additionally, a list of mindfulness exercises and resources that resulted from the call and a pre-call survey to participants is also available. If you would like a copy of the summary and/or the list of mindfulness resources, please email us. We also welcome additions to this list of resources.