Mindfulness and progressive muscle relaxation as standardized session-introduction in individual therapy: A randomized controlled trial

J Clin Psychol. 2019 Jan;75(1):21-45. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22695. Epub 2018 Oct 8.


Objective: There is scarce research on the effects of mindfulness in individual therapy. As many practitioners integrate mindfulness exercises into individual therapy, empirical evidence is of high clinical relevance.

Method: We investigated the effects of a session-introducing intervention with mindfulness elements (SIIME) in a randomized, controlled design. The effects of SIIME on therapeutic alliance and symptomatic outcome were compared with progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and treatment-as-usual (TAU) control conditions. The sample comprised 162 patients with anxiety and depression.

Results: Multilevel modeling revealed a significant symptom reduction and significant increase of alliance over the course of therapy. There were no significant time-condition interactions on outcome and alliance, indicating the comparable efficiency of all three treatment conditions.

Conclusions: We found no advantage of SIIME versus PMR and TAU. Add-on mindfulness might not improve individual therapy related to alliance and outcome.

Keywords: component study; mindfulness; psychotherapy process; randomized controlled trial (RCT); therapeutic alliance.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Autogenic Training / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Psychotherapeutic Processes*
  • Therapeutic Alliance*
  • Treatment Outcome