The Effects of “The Work” Meditation (Byron Katie) on Psychological Symptoms and Quality of Life—A Pilot Clinical Study

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Abstract

Objectives:

“The Work” is a meditative technique that enables the identification and investigation of thoughts that cause an individual stress and suffering. Its core is comprised of four questions and turnarounds that enable the participant to experience a different interpretation of reality. We assessed the effect of “The Work” meditation on quality of life and psychological symptoms in a non-clinical sample.

Design:

This study was designed as a single-group pilot clinical trial (open label). Participants (n = 197) enrolled in a nine-day training course (“The School for The Work”) and completed a set of self-administered measures on three occasions: before the course (n = 197), after the course (n = 164), and six months after course completion (n = 102).

Outcome Measures:

Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS), Quality of Life Inventory (QOLI), Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self Report (QIDS-SR16), Outcome Questionnaire 45.2 (OQ-45.2), State–Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2 (STAXI-2), and State–Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).

Results:

A mixed models analysis revealed significant positive changes between baseline compared to the end of the intervention and six-month follow-up in all measures: BDI-II (t = 10.24, P < .0001), SHS (t = −9.07, P <.0001), QOLI (t = −5.69, P < .0001), QIDS-SR16 (t = 9.35, P < .0001), OQ-45.2 (t = 11.74, P < .0001), STAXI-2 (State) (t = 3.69, P = .0003), STAXI-2 (Trait) (t = 7.8, P < .0001), STAI (State) (t = 11.46, P < .0001), and STAI (Trait) (t = 10.75, P < .0001).

Conclusions:

The promising results of this pilot study warrant randomized clinical trials to validate “The Work” meditation technique as an effective intervention for improvement in psychological state and quality of life in the general population.

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