Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Mindfulness and expressive writing in college students with pathological worry
by Pontoski, Kristin E., Ph.D., Temple University, 2012, 114; 3493928
Abstract (Summary)

A growing body of literature supports the relationship between pathological worry and deleterious health consequences, including having a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; Waters & Craske, 2005). Individuals who suffer from pathological worry tend to live life in the future rather than in the present moment. Mindfulness, a practice grounded in the acceptance of present-moment experience, can therefore be conceptualized as the antithesis of worry. Thus, the current study aimed to better understand the interplay between mindfulness and pathological worry and the potential role of mindfulness practice in reducing pathological worry. This study examined the effect of a brief mindful breathing practice and an expressive writing exercise on psychological health outcomes in a sample of college students with pathological worry. The study aimed to replicate findings that expressive writing is helpful for individuals with pathological worry, and it aimed to test the hypothesis (Brody & Park, 2004) that expressive writing itself is a process conceptually similar to mindfulness. Participants practiced either a mindful breathing exercise or a relaxation exercise prior to engaging in three consecutive sessions of either expressive writing or a control writing exercise. It was expected that individuals who practiced mindfulness and engaged in expressive writing would have lower levels of depression, worry, and GAD symptoms as well as increased levels of self-reported mindfulness when assessed one month after completing the study, but these hypotheses were not supported. It was found, however, that individuals who engaged in expressive writing demonstrated a decrease in negative affect over time compared to those who engaged in control writing. Furthermore, those who engaged in mindfulness practice compared to those who engaged in relaxation practice reported higher levels of mindful awareness directly following the writing sessions. The study has the practical implication of understanding the utility of brief mindfulness practice to alleviate symptoms of worry and GAD in a sample of non-treatment-seeking high worriers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Heimberg, Richard G.
Commitee: Alloy, Lauren B., Giovannetti, Tania, Johnson, Kareem, Kendall, Philip C., McCloskey, Michael
School: Temple University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-B 73/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Expressive writing, Mindfulness, Worrying
Publication Number: 3493928
ISBN: 978-1-267-15006-6
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