Theses Doctoral

Integrating Yoga and Self-Psychology: An Open-Trial Pilot Study

Drapkin, Jennifer Anne

The primary aim of this study is to examine changes an individual’s self-concept before and after exposure to an integrated yoga self-psychology model, delivered through an eight- session curriculum, based upon the chakra system. The study explores relationships between elements of self-concept including psychological strengths (self-compassion, mindfulness, interoceptive awareness, psychological flexibility, and emotion regulation) and psychopathology (anxiety, depression, PTSD, and borderline symptoms.) An open trial was conducted in a university-based wellness center with 102 non-clinically-referred participants, 28 of whom attended four or fewer classes (Non-Completion group) and 74 of who attended five or more classes, completing the study (Completion group). From pretest to posttest, participants in the Completion group showed significant gains in mindfulness, self-compassion, psychological flexibility, emotional regulation, and interoceptive awareness and a significant decrease in PTSD. Psychopathology in the Completion group also decreased significantly from pretest to posttest for participants who were symptomatic at baseline for depression (N=12), PTSD (N=27), anxiety (N=18), and borderline symptoms (N=19). For symptomatic participants, these decreases were sustained at 3-month follow-up for PTSD and borderline symptoms, but they were not sustained for anxiety and depression.
Overall, changes in psychological strengths were significantly negatively correlated with changes in psychopathology. Path analysis indicated that increases in psychological flexibility from pretest to posttest had a mediating effect at a trend level on reduction in PTSD and borderline symptoms from pretest to follow-up. Qualitative analysis revealed that 94.59% of participants in the Completion Group applied the lessons of the yoga curriculum to their lives outside of class.
The study then explored the clinical implications of an integrated yoga self-psychology model as a low-cost alternative or supplement to traditional psychotherapy and psychopharmacology for individuals who respond poorly to standard treatment or cannot afford it. The study also posited that an integrated yoga self-psychology model may strengthen psychological flexibility, which may in turn lead to a reduction in certain types of psychopathology, notability symptoms of borderline personality disorder and PTSD.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Miler, Lisa
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 22, 2019