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Title: A grounded theory exploration of the impact of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on conceptualisation of, and relationship with, selfhood
Author: Nandha, Sunil
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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The Buddhist philosophy from which mindfulness-based approaches originate proposes a system of understanding whereby inherent suffering stems from attachment to a rigid and unchanging concept of self. Though this notion of selfhood is afforded centrality within such traditions, as well as having been a predominant concern in the history of theoretical psychology, our modern research interests and clinical applications have seemingly preferred to focus on operationalisable constructs, such is their relative amenity to empirical study, whilst at the same time, an interest in the clinical application of mindfulness is abound. As such - and with MBCT as currently the most evidenced of mindfulness-centred clinical protocols - we consider the extent to which the benefits apparent may pertain directly to, and be more clearly understood in terms of, this broader theme of change in conceptualisation of and relationship with self, commensurate in particular with the key Buddhist tenets of Dukkha, Anicca and Anatta (inherent suffering, transience of forms, and non-self). Our motivation is to explore the context within which well-researched content-based mechanisms of change in MBCT (e.g. cognitive reactivity and self-compassion) may operate. Explorative interviews investigating processes of change experienced were conducted with 21 subjects; comprising current MBCT patients, previous MBCT patients, and Clinical Psychologists in Training, with a Grounded Theory methodology employed in data collection, abstraction, and integration of theory. Findings indicate a dynamic three-phase process of change; capturing the accounts of individuals firstly in gaining insights into "how I am constructed and controlled", secondly in "getting to know my experience", and finally in "knowing myself differently". The constituent categories of these central concepts (which make up our explanatory scheme) are described and illustrated in detail. Our findings and interpretations are suggestive that MBCT does indeed promote change in conceptualisation of, and relationship with selfhood, potentially through processes seemingly well aligned with the Three Marks of Existence outlined in Buddhist philosophies. Implications, both theoretical; regards the prominence of context versus content in psychological literature, and clinical; with respect to the issue of working therapeutically - and more explicitly - with selfhood, or personhood, are considered. Links are made with existing research into known change mechanisms in MBCT, as well with prominent clinical models, in particular CBT, ACT and PBCT. Finally, wider structural inferences and potential future research are suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available