‘Experiencing life for the first time’: the effects of a traumatic death course on social work student mindfulness and empathy

Kara Thieleman, Joanne Cacciatore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mindfulness and empathy are protective factors for social workers and may also improve client outcomes. They may be especially important when dealing with clients experiencing grief and death-related challenges. This study replicated a previous study assessing empathy and mindfulness in social work students before and after an experiential death education course with a focus on traumatic grief. The Empathy Assessment Index and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire were used to measure changes in empathy and mindfulness in 111 primarily MSW-level social work students after the completion of the course. Results showed statistically significant improvements in overall empathy, on three of five empathy subscales, and on four of five mindfulness facets. A qualitative analysis of responses to an open-ended question asking about ways in which the course was meaningful to students found themes of increased awareness, a deepened sense of connection, and preparation for clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Work Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • Death education
  • empathy
  • grief
  • mindfulness
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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