Viewing archives for Prof. Willem Kuyken

Prof. Willem Kuyken

Psychiatry, Oxford Mindfulness Centre

Teachers “Finding Peace in a Frantic World”: An Experimental Study of Self-Taught and Instructor-Led Mindfulness Program Formats on Acceptability, Effectiveness, and Mechanisms

Jesus Montero-Marin, Laura Taylor, Catherine Crane, Mark T. Greenberg, Tamsin J. Ford, J. Mark G. Williams, Javier García-Campayo, Anna Sonley, Liz Lord, Tim Dalgleish, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, MYRIAD team, & Willem Kuyken

Mindfulness training (MT) is considered appropriate for school teachers and enhances well-being. Most research has investigated the efficacy of instructor-led MT. However, little is known about the benefits of using self-taught formats, nor what the key mechanisms of change are that contribute to enhanced teacher well-being. This study compared instructor-led and self-taught MT based on a book (Williams & Penman, 2011) in a sample of secondary school teachers. We assessed expectancy, the degree to which participants believed the intervention was effective, their program engagement, well-being and psychological distress, and evaluated whether mindfulness and self-compassion skills acted as mediators of outcomes. In total, 206 teachers from 43 schools were randomized by school to an instructor-led or self-taught course—77% female, mean age 39 years (SD = 9.0). Both MT formats showed similar rates of participant expectancy and engagement, but the instructor-led arm was perceived as more credible. Using linear mixed-effects models, we found the self-taught arm showed significant pre-post improvements in self-compassion and well-being, while the instructor-led arm showed such improvements in mindfulness, self-compassion, well-being, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout. Changes over time significantly differed between the groups in all these outcomes, favoring the instructor-led arm. The instructor-led arm, compared with the self-taught, indirectly improved teacher outcomes by enhancing mindfulness and self-compassion as mediating factors. Mindfulness practice frequency had indirect effects on teacher outcomes through mindfulness in both self-taught and instructor-led arms. Our results suggest both formats are considered reasonable, but the instructor-led is more effective than the self-taught.

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Frequency of Self-reported Unpleasant Events and Harm in a Mindfulness-Based Program in Two General Population Samples

Ruth Baer, Catherine Crane, Jesus Montero_Marin, Alice Phillips, Laura Taylor, Alice Tickell, Willem Kuyken & The MYRIAD Team


Evidence-based mindfulness programs have well-established benefits, but the potential for harmful effects is understudied. We explored the frequency and severity of unpleasant experiences and harm in two nonclinical samples participating in an adaptation of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for the general population. Study 1 included 84 schoolteachers; study 2 included 74 university students. Both studies were uncontrolled. Participants completed self-report questionnaires about psychological symptoms before and after the 8-week mindfulness course. After the course, they responded to a survey designed for this study that included Likert ratings and free-text questions about unpleasant experiences and harm. All data were collected online. In both samples, about two-thirds of participants reported unpleasant experiences associated with mindfulness practice during the course. Most participants (85–92%) rated these experiences as not at all or somewhat upsetting; some indicated that difficult experiences led to important learning or were beneficial in some way. The proportion of participants reporting harm from the mindfulness course ranged from 3 to 7%. The proportion showing reliable deterioration on symptom questionnaires ranged from 2 to 7%. Those reporting harm and those showing reliable deterioration on questionnaires were largely separate subgroups; only one participant fell in both. Findings highlight the need for mindfulness teachers to manage expectations about benefits and difficulties that may occur in mindfulness-based programs and to work skilfully with participants experiencing difficulties. Experiences of harm may not be captured by symptom questionnaires and should be explicitly assessed in other ways.

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