Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Ram Cnaan, PhD

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Applegate, PhD

Third Advisor

Amishi Jha, PhD

Abstract

This dissertation aims to contribute to the social work literature regarding successful aging. Specifically, the purpose of this study is to investigate if Mindfulness Meditation training (MM) is a possible method to promote successful aging.

The first chapter of the proposal is an article, “Mindfulness: The present moment in clinical social work”, which has been published in Clinical Social Work Journal (Turner, 2009). Chapter One provides an understanding of the concept of mindfulness as well as the research into the neurological and behavioral benefits of mindfulness skills training. Four specific therapy protocols, which incorporate mindfulness skills including MBSR, are described. Clinical case examples are provided to demonstrate the impact of mindfulness skills training on both clients and on the social work helping relationship.

In Chapter Two, the strengths and challenges for elders in contemporary American society are presented. Specifically, the importance of both skills to cope with loss and of positive self-perception of aging are emphasized as central to successful aging. Mindfulness skills training (MM) is presented as a potential method to promote emotion regulation and positive self-perception in elders.

Chapter Three presents the research conducted for this dissertation. In this dissertation, I studied whether mindfulness skills can be taught to elders, and whether elders can improve their ability to regulate emotion and develop a positive self-perception of aging as a result of mindfulness skills training.

The findings of this study are presented in chapter 4. MM training participants improved in their mindfulness, emotion regulation and self-perception of aging more than the control group. However, due to the small sample size (n=22) none of these findings met the criteria for statistical significance. Quotes from the participants are provided to demonstrate the benefits that each group experienced as a result of their training.

The implications and limitations of this research are examined in chapter 5. Further research into mindfulness to promote successful aging is suggested, utilizing a training tailored to the needs of an older adult population. Further researchers should obtain a greater sample size in order to obtain results that are statistically significant. The connections between mindfulness, spirituality, the reduction of pain and the promotion of healthy sleep are identified as additional variables to be explored. The potential for social workers in promote successful aging through mindfulness skills training is identified as an area for future research.

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Social Work Commons

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