Developing mindfulness skills of MFT trainees through Aikido

Marriage and family therapist (MFT) trainees encounter numerous stressors such as work overload, social conflict and lack of support in the work place, client related issues, personal relational issues, and much more during their graduate program enrollment (Maslach, 2003; Negash & Sahin, 2011). As a result, burnout and compassion fatigue can develop as a consequence of continual exposure to such stressors leading to possible mental and/or physical exhaustion, feelings of cynicism towards a job, and a loss of empathy (Maslach, 2003; O'Brien & Haaga, 2015). The purpose of this project was to develop a group curriculum in which the group leader will educate new MFT trainees about burnout and develop mindfulness skills through the teachings of a Japanese martial art of Aikido. Group sessions provide a psychoeducational portion which provides information on the topics of burnout, self of the therapist, and Aikido, while the experiential portion allows trainees to physically practice Aikido movements. The goal is to develop body-awareness through Aikido movement practice which will lead to a better understanding and growth of mindfulness (Caplan, Portillo, & Seely, 2013; Mehling, Gopisetty, Daubenmier, Price, Hecht, & Stewart, 2009).