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Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Mindfulness (Psychology), Meditation-Therapeutic use, Self-care, Health, Qualitative research, Meditation, Recollective awareness meditation, RAM, Siff, Jason, Kaufer, Nelly, Self-awareness, Therapist self-care, Burnout, Vicarious traumatization, Compassion fatigue, Mindfulness, Therapist well-being, Meditation instructions, Counter-transference, Self-care process, Client care, Self-regulation, Balance, Conditionality, Self-criticism, Judgment, Gratitude, Self-compassion, Validation, Connection to values, Physical self-care, Buffer, Solitude, States of mind, Emotions, Thoughts, Open meditation, Empirical, Open-ended interviews, Psychotherapists-Mental health, Secondary traumatic stress


Research substantiates the common phenomenon of therapist burnout, which poses serious challenges to mental health clinicians. Effective practices of self-care are necessary to ensure therapist well-being and allow professionals to provide their clients with the highest quality of care. This qualitative study examines how Recollective Awareness Meditation (RAM) functions as a self-care process for meditating therapists. RAM is unique in its receptive and unstructured style, and its focus on the importance of recollection after meditation. This investigation is based on the perspectives of twelve therapists, who discussed their personal experiences with RAM. Ellen Baker's (2002) framework of selfcare (as consisting of self-awareness, self-regulation, and balance) was used to guide interviews and organize findings. This study's major findings show RAM offered therapists in the study a powerful process of self-care with many significant benefits. Central findings reported by therapists included: increased self-awareness (including various positive effects on therapy practice and increased awareness of burnout symptoms); increased self-regulation; increased balance; reduced self-criticism and judgment, increased self-compassion and validation; increased connection to values, increased gratitude; and a heightened awareness of conditionality. Findings also speak to how RAM compares to and interacts with other forms of self-care, and the limitations of RAM. RAM encourages a meditator to know and tolerate one's inner world; this study suggests it is highly protective for therapists, whose jobs entail effectively working with others' pain, thoughts, and emotions.




iii, 88 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 71-78)