Mindfulness Coaching Case Studies
Case Study #1
Client is a 48-year-old female and clinical therapist. The client is experiencing high stress due to operating her own business. Additionally, being a woman of color, she is experiencing high anxiety due to national racial issues. Other stressors she is managing include migraines, past trauma, personal relationships and grieving her mother who passed one year prior.
The TSD Mindfulness Client Assessments were administered before the first session. Results showed high levels of the following in the “Mental Processing” category: distraction, stress, anger, shame, and doubt; in the “Flight, Fight, Freeze” category uneasiness, anxiety, and overwhelm; and in the “Grief and Trauma” category, grief. Levels ranged from 47 to 73 on a 100-point scale.
Concepts and Exercises Coached
Mindfulness Coach, Sarah Vallely, met with the client during six one-hour sessions. Vallely identified the client’s cognitive elaboration (filling in missing information with prior knowledge) was a cause of her anxiety and depression. Vallely taught the client how to identify this type of thinking and disengage from it. Additionally, Vallely coached the client in concepts about self-worth, specifically her self- worth lies in her humanness and her difficult feelings of abandonment, betrayal and loss do not take away from her worth.
Vallely taught the client short mindfulness exercises including single-pointed-focus on sounds, breath and body sensations and loving kindness meditation. And she learned quieting techniques, such as the practice of noting. Vallely also taught the client the TSD Mindfulness exercise of Emotional Mapping, which involves tracing superficial emotions of anger, blame, and doubt to a deeper emotions of abandonment, betrayal and loss. The client also learned self-compassion affirmations for soothing her nervous system.
Based on a follow-up assessment after six sessions, the client decreased the following on a scale of 100 total points: “distraction” by 31 points, “stress” by 29 points, and “anger” by 27, “anxiety” by 18 points, and “grief” by 20 points. Any decrease of 30 or more points, is considered a significant shift and the points for each state are based on nine questions. For example, nine questions regarding “distraction” were used to create a score for distraction.
During coaching, the client learned that her sympathetic nervous system was activated frequently without her knowledge. She became aware of constricted muscles in her abdomen and feeling rushed, pressured, and hesitant. After experimenting with several exercises, she discovered the exercises with the most soothing effect on her nervous system.
During coaching, the client reduced mental exhaustion and avoided work burnout by becoming mindful of instances of cognitive elaboration and catastrophic thinking. The client now observes her cognitive elaboration as separate from herself and moves into mental rest and emotional calm. She also notes thoughts, such as “worry” and “planning” to separate herself from them.
The client also reduced mental exhaustion and avoided work burnout by becoming aware of her instances of analysis paralysis. During these moments she found herself overthinking preparing for meetings and making business decisions. She reported her single-pointed-focus and her loving kindness exercises helped her quiet her thinking, open up to spontaneous solutions, develop trust, and let go of outcomes. Now when the client is stressed about not having enough time to prepare or afraid of making a mistake she reminds herself, “I will learn something in the process. It is okay if I make a mistake.”
Case Study #2
Client is a 36-year-old female and a professional coach. The client is extremely creative and driven, juggling her business, a marriage and raising three young children. She is feeling overwhelmed by her various responsibilities and yearns for more time for self-care and restoration. The client is also experiencing grief related to losing her brother eighteen months prior.
The TSD Mindfulness Client Assessments were administered before the first session. Results
showed high levels of the following in the “Mental Processing” category: distraction, stress, shame, feeling provoked and confusion; in the “Flight, Fight, Freeze” category uneasiness, anxiety, overwhelm, and exposed; and in the “Grief and Trauma” category feelings of grief. Levels ranged from 36 to 62 on a 100-point scale.
Concepts and Exercises Coached
Mindfulness Coach, Sarah Vallely, met with the client during four one-hour sessions. Vallely taught the client the concept of conditional thinking and conditional behavior (i.e.. taking action because she thinks she ought to instead of taking action because it feels honoring in her heart.) Vallely also explained the importance of being aware of overthinking, specifically rumination, worry and list making. Practicing self-compassion for her thinking and behaviors was also taught. Vallely also assisted the client to discover her feelings of self- responsibility and compulsion were leading to feelings of burnout.
Vallely coached the client to use short mindfulness exercises, including the practice of noting (identifying a thought of rumination, naming it “rumination” and observing the thought cycle as something separate from oneself). Vallely also taught single-pointed-focus of sounds, physical sensations and the breath, as well as, mindfulness of her satisfaction level of aspects of her life versus her satisfaction level of the present moment. Additionally, the coach taught the client self-compassion affirmations, such as “I am loved, I am worthy of love, I am connected and I am a good person.”
Based on a follow-up assessment after four sessions, the client decreased the following on a scale of 100 total points: “distraction” by 33 points, “stress” by 40 points, “overwhelm” by 27, “feelings of being provoked” by 18 points, “confusion” by 18 points and “shame” by 18 points. Any decrease of 30 or more points, is considered a significant shift and the points for each state are based on nine questions. For example, nine questions regarding “distraction” were used to create a score for distraction. Although the 18-point drops were not considerable, they put the client in the healthy range.
During coaching, the client became aware that her aspiration, specifically creativity, leads to feelings of overwhelm, urgency, and frustration. She shared, “I want to explore everything and make them come to life.” Presently, she is operating from a place of trust and allows her endeavors to unfold in an organic way. She is also putting boundaries on the amount of time she spends developing her creative ideas. The client is now more mindful of her quality of life needs and take on only ask much as she feels comfortable with.
During coaching, the client also became aware that her imposter syndrome and perfectionism, leads to feelings of being unqualified and embarrassed about not knowing answers during her work. Presently, she trusts her abilities and when perfectionism thoughts surface, she redirects her attention to physical aspects of her environment (i.e. sounds). The client also became aware that her compulsions, specifically rigid thinking, leads to feelings of frustration and sadness. She attributes this to her compulsion to explore all her creative ideas .
During coaching, the client realized she was taking actions and expressing feelings because she thought she was supposed to. For example, she might act outwardly happy, despite how she truly felt inside. She is now being truer to her difficult feelings and allowing herself to feel more spontaneous emotions, such as joy. The client also reports that her self-compassion practice has helped her: stay confident in her abilities, take breaks, decrease her overthinking and remove added pressure she might put on herself. “I didn’t realize the constant battle in my head was because I felt I was being pulled away from my home life.”
The client is a 70-year-old female and retired. She lost her husband two years prior and felt excluded by her extended family. She also relocated from out of state and felt isolated. Her daughter suffers from substance abuse and had recently been put into jail. The client had been out of contact with her for two years, which was causing anxiety and grief. The client also felt unappreciated by some of her other children, which caused her to be distraught and disappointed.
Case Study #3
The TSD Mindfulness Client Assessments were administered before the first session. Results showed high levels of the following in the “Mental Processing” category: stress, self-doubt, distraction and confusion; in the “Flight, Fight, Freeze” category uneasiness; and in the “Grief and Trauma” category feelings of neglect, rejection, inferiority, numbness, grief, loneliness and guilt. High levels ranged from 40 to 80 on a 100-point scale.
Concepts and Exercises Coached
Mindfulness Coach, Sarah Vallely, met with the client during four one-hour sessions. Vallely taught her the concept of rumination and to be mindful of what triggers her rumination. Vallely also explained the concept of devaluing (thinking she is lesser of a person due to an emotion, action or thought). Vallely encouraged the client to allow for physical responses to her emotions so that she could move into healing and acceptance.
Other concepts taught were “care for the person not the outcome” to help ease her anxiety and be relieved of holding on to a certain outcome with her daughter. Vallely coached her to trust insights, accept realities, and lean into her emotions in a mindful and healthy way. In addition, Vallely taught her a mindfulness practice in humility and self-compassion.
Short mindfulness exercises Vallely coached the client to use included single-pointed-focus on breath, and physical sensations (especially during a difficult emotion) and with eyes open looking at a physical object. Additionally, Vallely taught the practice of noting (naming thought cycles, such as rumination) and redirecting attention to breath or sounds. The client also learned loving kindness meditation.
Based on a follow up assessment after four sessions, the client decreased the following on a scale of 100 total points: “distraction” by 53 points, “confusion” by 36 points, “feelings of inferiority” by 31 points, “grief” by 46 points and “emotional numbness” by 40 points. Any decrease of 30 or more points, is considered a significant shift and the points for each state are based on nine questions. For example, nine questions regarding “distraction” were used to create a score for distraction.
Prior to coaching when difficult emotions of grief surfaced, she client devalued herself, believing she was lesser of a person because she was experiencing these emotions. Now she leans into her emotions by validating herself for feeling this way. She also notices physical sensations related to these emotions in her body and allows for physical responses to her emotions, such as crying. Both of which instigate a release and offer peace. In other instances, she calms herself by looking at an object and/or breathing when difficult emotions feel intrusive. This is particularly helpful when she feels upset about her husband who passed. Additionally, she also uses deep breathing to calm emotions of worry about her daughter.
The client reported that her relationship with her children has become stronger. Her mindfulness exercises support her to pause before responding, which has contributed to her closer relationship with her children. Additionally, after two years of no contact with her daughter, she said to her daughter, “Your difficulties do not define you nor make you any lesser of a person.” The client’s newfound compassion for her daughter is helping support their new relationship. The client explained that overall mindfulness coaching makes her feel more empowered and calmer; and has helped her heal a significant amount of grief around the loss of her spouse.of her