, Volume 10, Issue 10, pp 1969–1984 | Cite as

Mindfulness and Caring in Professional Practice: an Interdisciplinary Review of Qualitative Research

  • Anthony A. DeMauroEmail author
  • Patricia A. Jennings
  • Timothy Cunningham
  • Dorrie Fontaine
  • Helen Park
  • Peter L. Sheras



Training in mindfulness has become increasingly popular for caring professionals, including teachers, nurses, psychotherapists, and social workers. Recent research indicates mindfulness is valuable for these individuals as a means of managing occupational stress and burnout and can also enhance the quality of interactions with students, patients, and clients. However, the empirical evidence is sparse explaining how this process occur, or the mechanisms through which mindfulness mitigates burnout and enhances professional practice. This review examines the qualitative research on mindfulness for caring professionals and synthesizes previous findings with Noddings’ theory of caring to show how mindfulness supports the various dimensions of professional caring practice.


The following systematic literature review employs a synthesis framework approach to develop a rich narrative of how mindfulness supports caring professionals, relying upon the participants’ own words and descriptions of day-to-day events in their work. The review highlights commonalities across the disciplines of teaching, nursing, psychotherapy, and social work to uncover the fundamental ways mindfulness can enhance the caring relation.


Findings demonstrate how engagement with mindfulness supports caring professionals’ receptivity, motivation, and responsiveness to others through mechanisms of therapeutic presence, listening, non-judgment, compassion, self-care, emotional awareness, and emotion regulation.


Results highlight the unique ways caring professionals make sense of and apply mindfulness to their work, with particular attention to the interplay of intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions of the caring process. Results suggest that mindfulness cultivates certain skills that are especially relevant to the occupational demands of caring professionals.


Caring professionals Caregiving Teaching Nursing Psychotherapy Social work Interpersonal mindfulness 


Authors’ Contributions

AAD: conducted literature search, systematic review, and framework synthesis, wrote the manuscript. PAJ: assisted with literature search, systematic review, framework synthesis, and writing of manuscript. TC, DF, HP, PLS: critically reviewed themes, excerpts, and synthesis for alignment with their understanding of the occupational demands of their respective disciplines, as well as how well the manuscript’s descriptions of mindfulness situated within those professions matched their own scholarly and practical knowledge.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.


Studies included in the systematic review are marked by an (*)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Nalanda InstituteNew YorkUSA

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