Joanne R. Grassia is a 2015 graduate of the PhD Program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Antioch University, New England.

Dissertation Committee

  • Lucille Byno, Ph.D. - Committee Chair
  • Megan Murphy, Ph.D. -Committee Member
  • Susan Dreyer-Leon, Ed.D. - Committee Member
  • Catherine Lounsbury, Ed.D. - Department of Applied Psychology Representative


Buddhist meditation, marriage and family therapy, systemic psychotherapy, therapist development, compassionate therapeutic presence, personal, professional

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This dissertation consists of two articles. The first article presents a literature review of research on therapists’ personal and professional lives as practitioners of Buddhist meditation and psychotherapy in the past ten years. Nineteen articles were reviewed that met the inclusion criteria of a) between 2004 and 2014; b) exploring meditation; and c) studies related to therapist personal or professional lives. The results of the review identified four broad themes: a) presence and acceptance; b) empathy; c) countertransference; and d) self-care/compassion and gratitude. The content analysis indicated a positive association between therapist meditation practice and therapist qualities, both for personal development and enhanced clinical competence. The second article describes a qualitative research study to discover the embodied, lived experiences of practicing therapists as they move between their personal study of Buddhist meditation practices and their professional clinical work. In-depth semi-structured interview data were analyzed, revealing two superordinate themes: a) a way of seeing and being in the world; and b) the personal and the professional in the therapy room. The research findings have clinical implications in gaining an understanding of on-going personal and professional development for experienced therapists and contributing to the literature on professional competence, in particular, therapeutic presence, acceptance, empathy, compassion, and practitioner well-being. The electronic version of this dissertation is available in the open-access OhioLink ETD Center,