Mindfulness and meditation in the workplace: An acceptance and commitment therapy approach

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APA Citation: 

Bond, F. W., Flaxman, P. E., & Lloyd, J. (2016). Mindfulness and meditation in the workplace: An acceptance and commitment therapy approach. In: Michael A. West, ed. The Psychology of Meditation, Research and Practice. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199688906.

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Conceptual
Other Third-Wave Therapies: Conceptual
Publication Type: 
ACT, mindfulness, meditation, workplace

There is a wide-ranging and growing body of evidence that mental health and behavioral effectiveness are influenced more by how people interact with their thoughts and feelings than by their form (e.g., how negative they are) or frequency. Research has demonstrated this key finding in a wide range of areas. For example, in chronic pain, psychosocial disability is predicted more by the experiential avoidance of pain than by the degree of pain (McCracken 1998). A number of therapeutic approaches have been developed that share this key insight: Distress tolerance (e.g., Brown et al. 2002; Schmidt et al. 2007), thought suppression (e.g., Wenzlaff and Wegner 2000), and mindfulness (Baer 2003). It is also central to a number of the newer contextual cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) approaches to treatment, such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT; Segal et al. 2002), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT; Linehan 1993), metacognitive therapy (Wells 2011), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT; Hayes et al. 1999). The purpose of this chapter is to describe how ACT conceptualizes mindfulness and tries to enhance it in the pursuit of promoting mental health and behavioral effectiveness (e.g., productivity at work). To this end, we discuss ACT’s key construct of psychological flexibility, which involves mindfulness, and how it has led to a somewhat different approach not only to conceptualizing mindfulness, but also to how we try to enhance it in the workplace. In so doing, we hope to show that whilst formal meditation practice is valued in ACT, it is only one strategy that is used to promote mindfulness, as well as psychological flexibility more generally.

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