Steps towards peace of mind: integrating mindful presence in the practice of psychotherapy
AuthorsBishop, David Gordon
fourth order change
fifth common factor
inquiry based stress reduction
Subject Categories::C890 Psychology not elsewhere classified
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AbstractWhen, despite leading evidence-based interventions, people remain trapped in mental illness, where might we find hope? As a Systemic Psychotherapist with a previous career in Psychiatry, the exploration of new possibilities drives my clinical passion and research interest. I currently work within the specialist field of eating disorders, in which Anorexia Nervosa holds the highest mortality of any psychiatric ‘disorder’. There is an ethical imperative to explore new territory. News of difference has arisen through my experience and training in both established, and novel, mindfulness-informed approaches. These include two lesser-known models from the complimentary field, called The Journey Method, and The Work. The impact of integrating new ideas has transformed my understanding of the potential for change in healing relationships. Clinical outcomes have improved, and, for some, therapy has sparked a transformation – a different order of change. What differences may be making a difference? I have begun to explore a new agenda for therapy, representing a radical shift from the notion of ‘symptom reduction’, to a perhaps, rather abstract idea, of an evolving ‘Peace of Mind’. From the insider-lens of practitioner-research, I describe four case studies from my clinical practice; two brief stories introduce the novel approaches, and two in-depth case studies explore ‘what is going on’. Relational ethnography – writing as a method of research – offers a rich and evocative way of describing, reflecting, and connecting. The chapters of the thesis portray a journey of connections and insights that might be conceived of as a series of philosophical and practical steps, which may contribute to the evolution of systemic thinking, and, for clients, steps towards Peace of Mind. I explore patterns which connect systemic thinking to mindfulness meditation, and philosophies embedded within the great spiritual traditions. I connect with Imelda McCarthy’s ‘Fifth Province’ and how Mindful Presence may offer a healing space. I make connections with ‘Common Factors research’, exploring how factors common to all therapies contribute to change. I connect with new ideas of systems, wholeness, and theories of Consciousness from the new Physics. I describe different ways of knowing beyond the rational-intellectual: how embodied, intuitive, and especially spiritual-transpersonal ways of knowing may be embraced alongside traditional ways of doing therapy. I develop new models and ideas about problem formation and change: I propose a ‘new’ (or ancient) Common Factor as a source of change and healing – a Meta, meta-sphere of influence. This factor is common to all of our clients, to all therapists, all therapeutic relationships; and, perhaps, represents a resonance with the foundation of our very existence. It has been referred to by many names – Presence, Mindful Awareness, Consciousness – an infinite, silent, peaceful Awareness. It can only be known experientially. I describe how, through communion in Presence within psychotherapy relationships, we may enable our clients to re-connect with this ‘common factor’. Change emerges through the dynamic, entangled, reflexive relationship between many factors. Yet, it is Presence that, for some, offers a difference that makes a difference. I describe such transformation as Fourth Order Change.
CitationBishop, D. (2021) 'Steps Towards Peace of Mind: Integrating Mindful Presence in the Practice of Psychotherapy'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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