Mindfulness is a therapeutic approach that focuses on increasing a client’s attentiveness and awareness of the present, through acceptance and understanding, without judgment. Mindfulness-based approaches have been shown to help increase emotional regulation in people with many different psychological issues, including, drinking problems, suicidal ideation, gambling addiction, self-harm behaviors, depression, anxiety, and many others. One of the many benefits of mindfulness therapy is that it can address multiple issues at a time. Individuals who have addictions often pick up a new behavior when they let go of their addiction. For example, people who quit smoking might then struggle with overeating. For these people, mindfulness can help with both the abstinence and the new maladaptive coping strategy. Women who abuse alcohol are at increased risk for other problems, one of which is domestic violence. Although men perpetrate more violence than women, women who have alcohol misuse issues are more likely to engage in violent and aggressive behaviors as a response to violence. They also initiate more violence than nondrinkers, and this behavior often results in retaliation that puts them at risk for serious injury. In addition, children who are parented by a woman with violent and drinking issues are more likely to suffer maltreatment through neglect or abuse. These women are hard to help because of the complex relationship between their drinking behaviors and aggressive tendencies. The likelihood of these women adhering to treatment is also very low. Therefore, mindfulness may provide a much needed treatment avenue for these unique women.
To determine how mindfulness and modification therapy (MMT), an approach based on mindfulness therapy, could help women with alcohol problems decrease their drinking and violent behaviors, Peggilee Wupperman of the Psychology Department of John Jay College at the City University of New York conducted a study of 14 women who were required to attend alcohol misuse and aggression therapy. The women were enrolled in 12 sessions of MMT and were assessed for emotional regulation, violent behavior, and alcohol consumption before and after the treatment. Wupperman found that all of the women responded very positively to the therapy. Specifically, there were dramatic decreases in alcohol use, and the retention rate was close to 95%, much higher than the average 50% that is reported in traditional court-referred treatments. The women in the study all reported having improved greatly as a result of the therapy. They felt better about themselves and their relationships with others. In addition, they were more confident in their skill levels and felt better equipped to cope with their violent behaviors in a productive way, rather than through alcohol misuse. The only negative expressed by the women was the length of the course. More than half of the women reported that they would have liked the course to be longer. This suggests that the women were eager to continue developing new tools and maintain their abstinence or decreased drinking. Wupperman said, “These ﬁndings suggest that a focus on mindfulness might be an acceptable and beneﬁcial component in treating this critically underserved population.”
Wupperman, P., Marlatt, A. G., Cunningham, A., Bowen, S., Berking, M., Mulvhill-Rivera, N., et al. (2012). Mindfulness and modification therapy for behavioral dysregulation: Results from a pilot study targeting alcohol use and aggression in women. Journal of Clinical Psychology 68.1, 50-66.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.