Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Effects of Mindful Somatic Psychoeducation for Japanese College Students
by Yamaji, Hiroki, Ph.D., The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 2016, 149; 10253803
Abstract (Summary)

Development of generic skills including social and emotional competence has become a major objective in today’s higher education. Somatic psychoeducation may contribute to this new endeavor by fostering somatic awareness and trust in the organism to promote the holistic development of students. In this study, somatic awareness was defined as “the moment-to-moment close intimacy with one’s experience,” which connects to the innate propensity of an organism to self-regulate and helps it become fully responsive to the immediate task in whatever situation. Drawing on a literature review on effective mindfulness-based interventions, the current study addressed the question of whether an 8-week somatic psychoeducation in college could indeed develop somatic awareness and trust in the organism, and enhance integral functioning that included general mindfulness, stress resilience, interpersonal empathy, responsibility for self-care, and generic skills. The educational program was mostly experiential, uniquely combining Western and Japanese somatic psychology as well as mindfulness practice. Assessment was conducted by self-report questionnaires except for trust in the organism and interpersonal empathy, which employed both self-report and performance measures. The research design was a randomized controlled trial with a convenience sample of 59 sophomore students at a Japanese university. Group 1 attended the 8-week course first while Group 2 served as a wait-list control, and then Group 2 attended the identical course for the next 8 weeks. Both groups responded to the self-report questionnaires three times: at Week 1 (a pretest for both groups), at Week 8 or 9 (a posttest for Group 1 and a second pretest for Group 2), and at Week 16 (an 8-week follow-up for Group 1 and a posttest for Group 2). Performance tests were taken only once at Week 8 or 9. Results suggested that the experimental course was successful in cultivating somatic awareness and the observing component of mindfulness, but not in other dependent variables (empathy, resilience, responsibility for self-care, trust in the organism, attitudinal components of mindfulness, and the self-evaluation of generic skills). The favorable effects in the enhancement of attention regulation and metacognitive awareness were consistent with the findings in mindfulness research that mindfulness training improves attention regulation and related cognitive abilities, including working memory capacity and insight in problem solving. Lack of course effects in other socioemotional competence was considered to be due to the absence of explicit activities in the program that should effectively promote each competence. From multivariate correlational analyses, it was found that general mindfulness, resilience, and empathy formed one group, whereas somatic awareness, trust in the organism, and responsibility for self-care formed another, the two groups being moderately correlated. In addition, each of the key variables in this study (somatic awareness, trust in the organism, and general mindfulness) was found to make a unique contribution to the self-evaluation of generic skills, demonstrating the incremental validity of the somatic constructs over mindfulness in predicting generic skills. It was also found that there was a unidirectional influence from somatic awareness upon the observing component of mindfulness, indicating a foundational feature of somatic awareness in the cultivation of mindfulness. Limitations and future directions of the study are discussed, including a need for more direct measurements that do not solely rely on self-report as well as for more qualitative analyses that explore the learning process in the mindful somatic psychoeducation toward generic skills development.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Knighton, Edmund
Commitee: Perez-Sheppe, Alina, Weaver, Judyth O.
School: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Department: Somatic Psychology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational psychology, Clinical psychology, Higher education
Keywords: College students, Japanese higher education, Mindfulness, Psychoeducation, Somatic awareness, Somatic psychology
Publication Number: 10253803
ISBN: 978-1-369-47921-8
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