Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Meditation-Psychological aspects, Mental health-Religious aspects, Spirituality-Psychological aspects, Affect (Psychology), Contemplative practice, Emotion regulation, Emotion/affect containment, Affect regulation, Clinical social work, Internal Family Systems, Psychotherapists-Psychology


This exploratory study was undertaken to investigate the ways that contemplative practices across varied traditions may aid practitioners in the development of tools for emotional containment and regulation. The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of psychotherapy (Schwartz, 1995) was used as a theoretical framework for this study. Findings were compared to the ways that affect regulation and containment are conceptualized within the IFS model. Eleven subjects who identified as utilizing contemplative practices from various traditions participated in this study. Interview questions were designed to explore the ways that engagement in a daily contemplative practice for five or more years had changed the ways that participants perceive and interact with their varied affective states. Data were organized in themes that highlighted commonalities between the conceptualization of the internal holding environment, or true Self in IFS, and the ways that contemplative practitioners articulated their experiences of compassionately witnessing and tending to challenging emotional experiences. Major findings of this study revealed that taking time each day to reflect upon and tend to one's adverse emotions may strengthen one's ability to contain and regulate challenging affect. Findings also suggested that the benefits of a daily contemplative practice are not tradition-specific. Therefore, clinicians may consider how to develop personalized daily practices of internal reflection with their clients as a way to foster more adaptive skills for emotional containment and regulation.




iii, 86 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 78-79)