Therapeutic Presence and Mindfulness: Mediating Role of Self-Compassion and Psychological Distress among Psychologists

Abstract

Therapeutic presence refers to the capacity to bring one’s whole self into encounters with clients by being present on multiple levels: physically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually. It has been suggested that mindfulness influences therapeutic presence in various ways, for example through the fostering of self-compassion or through the reduction of anxiety and depression symptoms in the psychologist. The main objective of this research is to examine the mediating roles of self-compassion and psychological distress in the relationship between mindfulness and therapeutic presence. Questionnaires were administered online to a sample of 178 French-Canadian psychologists. Results show that mindfulness is significantly correlated with self-compassion (r = 0.72) and psychological distress (r = − 0.41), while therapeutic presence is positively correlated with self-compassion (r = 0.54) and negatively correlated with psychological distress (r = − 0.41). Therapeutic presence is significantly correlated to all facets of mindfulness. In the mediation model, the self-compassion pathway indicates the indirect effect of self-compassion (b = 0.184), with a 95% confidence interval (CI = 0.040 to 0.336). The psychological distress pathway shows the indirect effect of psychological distress (b = 0.074), with a 95% confidence interval (CI = 0.004 to 0.163). These results support the mediation model with significant indirect effects. The results also support the link between mindfulness and therapeutic presence in psychotherapists, and offer a better understanding of the ways in which therapeutic presence and mindfulness interact. Avenues for future research are discussed.

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Funding

This study is financially supported by the Fonds d’animation et de diffusion de la recherche from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR).

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MB: Designed and executed the study, conducted data analyses and wrote the paper. FD: Collaborated in recruiting, design, writing, and editing the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

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Correspondence to Maxime Bourgault.

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All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with and received the approval of the Ethical Committee of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Bourgault, M., Dionne, F. Therapeutic Presence and Mindfulness: Mediating Role of Self-Compassion and Psychological Distress among Psychologists. Mindfulness 10, 650–656 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-1015-z

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Psychotherapist
  • Therapeutic presence
  • Mediation
  • Self-compassion
  • Psychological distress