‘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 journalArticlepeer-review

    5 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)
    Pages (from-to)470-484
    Number of pages15
    JournalSocial Work Education
    Volume38
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - May 19 2019

    Keywords

    • Death education
    • empathy
    • grief
    • mindfulness
    • trauma

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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