Module 1, Lesson 1
In Progress

Client Groups

Mindfulness, like many other holistic practices, can be used to support a range of clients.  When working with different client groups we need to consider their individual needs, legal and ethical considerations, and our own capacity to work with those individuals. If we don’t consider the specific needs of our clients, then we fail to deliver programs that suit them.

Children and adolescents

Working therapeutically with children and adolescents requires developmental considerations on top of the usual client-centred focus.  Developmental factors influence a child or young person’s capacity to engage in therapy, to understand and articulate the problem, and to participate in the therapeutic process safely and productively. 

Yet while many theorists and researchers inform our knowledge of child development and age-appropriate expectations, they must also be applied cautiously.  Acknowledging the limitations of the theory itself, its perspectives and historical context, allows us to work from a hypothetical stance that can be ‘tested’ for its fit with the young person, rather than applied and assumed absolutely. Children and young people attend with their own history and context, much of which is not presented initially upon referral.  The blending of our understanding of child development and it’s fit with the individual (and their story) in the room, is essential to best practice.

Read the following article.

Zelazo, P. D., & Lyons, K. E. (2011). Mindfulness Training in Childhood. Human Development, 54(2), 61-65.

People with disabilities

The first point required in discussing working with people with a disability is that people with disabilities are as unique and individualized as anyone else and attempting to apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach is unhelpful and disrespectful.  Therefore, initially I draw your attention back to the person-centered and strength-based approaches discussed above.

Clients with physical disabilities will generally be able to engage in mindfulness practice without modification, so long as your venue and delivery provides for accessibility and physical comfort. Statistically speaking, up to 15% of people with intellectual disabilities and up to 95% of people with autism spectrum disorder display some form of challenging behaviors.  These may include aggressive, self-injurious, destructive, and/or disruptive behaviors.  Mindfulness practice has been

shown to have a positive effect on the mental and physical wellbeing of adults and young people with disabilities, including a reduction in the severity and frequency of challenging behaviors.

Mindfulness is also known to reduce or alleviate anxiety, depression and stress-related psychological symptoms.

It is important to note that mindfulness is only effective when engaged in willingly by the client who is choosing to engage and learn.  Longer term training and repetition may be required, as well as the flexibility to work alongside family members and support workers.  This related directly back to working in a person-centered way, with the needs of the person in the room.

It is recommended that mindfulness practitioners wanting to work with people with intellectual disabilities gain additional training and experience in the disability space, or to work alongside an experienced practitioner. While mindfulness practices can be beneficial, their instructions and training may need to be adjusted to meet the learning needs of the client.

Read the following article.

Idusohan-Moizer, H., Sawicka, A., Dendle, J., & Albany, M. (2015). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for adults with intellectual disabilities: an evaluation of the effectiveness of mindfulness in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 59(2), 93–104.

Corporate settings

While the evidence proving the benefits of mindfulness across populations would clearly demonstrate the benefits in corporate settings, there may still be some reluctance by some individuals or businesses to consider mindfulness. For some mindfulness is associated with alternative or spiritual practices which might not have a traditional place in the workplace. Understanding how to explain mindfulness, its practice and benefits in a variety of ways to support the needs of the ‘corporate’ client and essentially to ‘sell’ your programs.  Please be clear here, being flexible with your language is not at all about being dishonest, it is about targeting your marketing appropriately to your target market.  For instance, some client groups want mindfulness to help achieve relaxation, while this might not be a focus of a corporate group.  Perhaps for them mindfulness can support focus and productivity.

Read the following article.

Karjalainen, M., Islam, G., & Holm, M. (2021). Scientization, instrumentalization, and commodification of mindfulness in a professional services firm. Organization, 28(3), 483–509.

Cross-Cultural Practice

Working cross-culturally requires you to be reflective and open to the influence of culture, beliefs, assumptions in the professional space.  While entering into a professional relationship with a person from a different culture with good intentions is good, it is not sufficient to culturally safe and effective practice.

Cultural Interface Theory acknowledges that the point of blending knowledge from two cultures it often contested, full of contradictions and unequal power relationships (Cooper, n.d.).  This requires a fluidity in the consideration of other perspectives and space in which varying knowledges can co-exist without one being right and the other wrong (Nataka, 2002).  In practice this means a coming together, a sharing and blending of knowledge’s so that together we can grow and develop, even if our perspectives differ or even contradict. It is the letting go of the need for a single truth, and the allowance for multiple truths and experiences that are of equal value.

What this means for your practice is for you to begin with an appreciation of the knowledge, values and needs of your client.  Mindfulness is a very old practice, with roots in many cultures, so assuming that you hold the only knowledge and experience in the room is problematic.  As above connecting with your clients and their existing knowledge prior to your classes/sessions can give you capacity to make connections between their existing knowledge and the knowledge that you have to share.  Below is an example of how mindfulness is applied in culture, al be it by a different name.

Read the following article

People with Complex Trauma

The word ‘trauma’ is used to describe many different situations or events that a person encounters involving a threat to life or physical wellbeing, that has an impact on the normal functioning of that individual, or group (Higgins, Hunter & Wall, 2016). Where ‘complex’ trauma differs is that it is categorised as involving interpersonal stressors, that is occurring between two or more people, and is likely acute and prolonged (Higgins, Hunter & Wall, 2016).  When such trauma occurs in childhood, it occurs alongside critical developmental stages in a child’s cognitive and social development (Moore et al, 2017; Cohen, 2006; Higgins, Hunter & Wall, 2016). 

In Australia 1 in 4 adults have a lived experience of complex trauma, a reality which is now increasingly acknowledged in the mental health field (Kezelman & Stavropoulous, 2019).  Along with the knowledge of this existence and prevalence, is the increasing understanding that trauma-informed practice requires a renewed look at counselling practice.   The profound impact of trauma on an individual, family and community, across aspects of mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual functioning and wellbeing, requires a difference lens for effective, safe practice (Menschner et al., 2016). 

Read the following article

The Science of Trauma, Mindfulness, and PTSD – Mindful

Inclusive Practice

If you are practicing in a person-centred and strengths-based way, with an appreciation of cultural and individual difference, then your practice for the most part should be inclusive.  However, being ‘inclusive’ in practice is sometimes not enough for those in the community to know you are a safe provider. For many people in our community their experiences of health and human services have been anything but safe. They have felt judged, unwelcomed, shunned and more.

Inclusive practice includes the attitudes and methods that ensure all people can access your services. Where everyone feels welcome and valued, and able to access the right supports to engage in your services.  This applies to all the client groups listed above, and many more.

Read the following article