The current study explores counsellors’ experiences of their integration of mindfulness into the treatment of their clients for depression and anxiety.
Five counsellors participated in semi-structured interviews, which were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis to identify how the use of mindfulness in therapy was experienced and understood by participants.
The analysis produced six themes: the benefits of mindfulness for clients, the client’s role in the success of mindfulness, the integrity of practice, using mindfulness in therapy, mindfulness techniques and the responsibility of a mindfulness practitioner. A description of these themes and related subordinate themes is presented, with analysis of the findings in relation to the literature.
Practice implications include that present-moment awareness is the cornerstone of mindfulness and that this can be practised and taught; that a counsellor’s establishment of a personal mindfulness practice significantly supports their effective integration of mindfulness interventions in the clinical space; and that a client’s sustained practice of mindfulness beyond the clinical space is indicative of a reduction of the frequency and intensity of depressive and anxious symptomology.
The level of a counsellor’s training and experience in mindfulness is found to be an important factor in the effectiveness of the use of mindfulness as a clinical intervention. This supports a case at policy level for the uptake of a mindfulness competencies framework for counselling trainees—including minimum duration of personal practice—in the service of greater consistency and accountability in the delivery of mindfulness techniques in the clinical space.