Implementing Mindfulness Practices with Clients

Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” It involves being fully present in each moment: observing with curiosity and nonjudgment one’s inner and outer world. Research has shown mindfulness has broad applications in the clinical realm. This includes proven benefits among people struggling with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance use disorders. It benefits people in incarceration and has even been proven to help cancer patients manage depression and reduce physical pain.

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Individuals skilled in mindfulness display increased emotional self-regulation for states like anxiety, depression and anger. They are better able to detach from difficult emotions like fear and sadness — meaning they could recognize and label the emotion without deeply identifying and responding to it. Mindfulness can lead to an increase in self-esteem and can contribute to an increase in responsiveness to cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approaches.

Below are five tips for facilitating mindfulness practices with your clients today:

  1. Address misconceptions about mindfulness early on, such as: Mindfulness doesn’t mean your mind is completely clear of thoughts. Mindfulness is a practice; it’s okay to not feel like you’re very good at it right away. There is no one right way to be mindful; it doesn’t have to involve meditation and can be incorporated into your daily activities.

  1. Be aware that mindfulness meditations can lead some people to feel anxious or overwhelmed. Tune in to your participants and decide together if mindfulness meditations can work for them. Let participants know they can open their eyes if a practice becomes too overwhelming. They may want to take a few deep breaths or pay attention to something else in the room (e.g., colors, sounds or the surface they are resting on).

  2. Give your clients choices. A practice that works well for one person may not for another. Options might include noticing thoughts, deep breathing, mindful walking, loving kindness meditation, noticing feelings, self-compassion and others. 

  3. Tune in to your clients’ individual needs and adapt as appropriate. This might include developing a mindset of cultural humility or implementing trauma-sensitive practices.

  4. Keep in mind you cannot force someone to relax; you can only create conditions in which relaxation is possible.


Additionally, to support facilitating mindfulness with your clients, The Change Companies has developed a Daily Mindfulness Journal. In each section, participants learn a new mindfulness practice and write their reflections on themes like accomplishment, courage, choice, self-compassion, wisdom, love and friendship, personal growth and gratitude. The Daily Mindfulness Facilitator Guide includes more information on facilitating mindfulness, as well as guided practices you can read out loud to your clients. This program can be facilitated in a group or one-on-one, or used independently in participants’ own time.

Helping your clients practice mindfulness can enhance their emotional self-regulation and, in turn, promote healthy relationship-building, more effective communication and overall enhanced well-being. 

We want to hear from you! How have you incorporated mindfulness into your work with your clients? What challenges have come up? What success stories do you have? Let us know here!