Doctor of Philosophy
Minda, John Paul
Objectives. This dissertation provides an evaluation of three web-based mindfulness interventions administered to legal professionals and graduate students — populations characterized by high rates of depression, anxiety, and stress. Chapter 2, Study 1. Lawyers completed questionnaires before and after engaging in Cho and Gifford’s (2016) 8-week Anxious Lawyer program. Analyses revealed improvements in perceived stress; mood; resilience; trait mindfulness; and the severity of depression, anxiety, and stress-related symptoms over time. Chapter 2, Study 2. Lawyers were randomly assigned to either an experimental or waitlist control condition. Well-being was measured at the beginning of the study (i.e., Time 1), after experimental participants had completed Cho’s 30-day Mindful Pause intervention (i.e., Time 2), and after control participants had completed Mindful Pause (i.e., Time 3). Between-group analyses measured differences in Time 2 scores while controlling for variations in Time 1 scores; Time 2 and 3 comparisons were implemented to examine intervention-related changes experienced by control participants. Experimental participants reported lower Time 2 levels of perceived stress and negative affect; less severe stress-related symptoms; and higher levels of positive affect, non-reactivity, and observing than control participants, who displayed post-intervention increases in non-judging and reductions in perceived stress and negative affect. Chapter 3. Graduate students completed a 4-week intervention adapted from the Anxious Lawyer program. As in Chapter 2, Study 2, a mixed design was used to analyze between-group differences at Time 2 and within-group changes between Time 2 and 3. Experimental participants displayed less severe depressive symptoms at Time 2 and higher levels of trait mindfulness than control participants; comparative improvements regarding awareness, perceived stress, negative affect, and stress severity were additionally noted but were limited to those who began the study with low (awareness) or high (perceived stress, negative affect, and stress severity) levels of these factors. Control participants experienced post-intervention decreases in perceived stress, negative affect, and the severity of stress-related symptoms, as well as increases in positive affect, non-reactivity, describing, and non-judging. Conclusions. These studies imply that lawyers and graduate students may benefit from the practice of mindfulness and add to a growing body of literature that suggests mindfulness enhances well-being.
Summary for Lay Audience
Mindfulness refers to a quality of consciousness that is characterized by a purposeful and non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. A state of mindfulness can be deliberately evoked through activities like meditation, where one actively pays attention to the sensations and/or thoughts they experience while laying or sitting in silent reflection. People can be further characterized by what is referred to as trait mindfulness, which is similar to a personality trait in that it describes a natural capacity for mindfulness or how mindful someone tends to be on a regular basis. Previous research has linked both state and trait mindfulness to a number of positive outcomes, including enhanced mood and well-being. The purpose of this dissertation was to assess the effectiveness of three mindfulness-based interventions that were designed to improve the health and wellness of lawyers and graduate students — both of which are populations plagued by high rates of depression, anxiety, and stress. Interventions included an 8-week program called the Anxious Lawyer program, a 30-day program called Mindful Pause, and a 4-week program that was adapted from the Anxious Lawyer program. All three of the interventions involved online guided meditations and the Anxious Lawyer programs also included readings about mindfulness and suggestions for non-meditation-based mindfulness activities (e.g., cultivating a mindful approach to walking or eating). Participants reported decreased stress, improved mood, and increased levels of trait mindfulness following completion of each of the programs. The adapted Anxious Lawyer program was additionally linked to decreases in the severity of depression-related symptoms (e.g., negative thinking and lack of motivation) and the original Anxious Lawyer program was found to increase psychological resilience (i.e., one’s ability to bounce back in difficult situations) and decrease symptoms associated with anxiety (e.g., excessive agitation). Mindfulness training, therefore, seems to have improved well-being among the participants in these studies and may be beneficial for lawyers and students who are struggling.
Nielsen, Emily G., "Moving Beyond the Mat: Exploring the Application of Mindfulness Training in Professional and Educational Settings" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7350.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.