by Fabrice Ange Nye, Ph.D 2011
Stress has been associated with a variety of chronic and acute conditions and with higher use of health care services. This study examines the effects of a 6-week stress reduction program based on a process developed by Byron Kathleen Mitchell—better known as Byron Katie. This technique is called interchangeably The Work or Inquiry.
This study recruited nearly a hundred volunteers between the ages of 30 and 71, randomized into either an experimental group or a waiting-list control group. Both the treatment and the control groups received the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-16), the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) at baseline, postintervention, and a six-week follow-up. The treatment was administered during the first 6 weeks.
Prior to the assessments, all participants were pre-screened using a questionnaire about their stress level, mental health, and whether they were in therapy. In addition, a demographic questionnaire and the NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) were administered to establish covariates. The members of the treatment group were asked to participate in focus groups at the end of the treatment.
The research hypothesis was that the treatment group receiving training in Inquiry would show an improvement superior to that experienced by the control group, as measured by the selected instruments for the study. A set of unpaired t-tests applied to measured data revealed iv significant changes at postintervention for perceived stress (p < .01) and acceptance (p < .05), and at follow-up for anxiety (p < .05), perceived stress (p < .001), acceptance (p < .05), and subjective well-being (p < .01). A set of unpaired t-tests applied to imputed data revealed no significant changes at postintervention or at follow-up.
A further refining of the analysis using analyses of covariance revealed significant changes (p < .001, except for AAQ/Post/Measured, SWLS/Post/Measured, and AAQ/Post/Imputed where p < .01) after correcting for covariates. Covariates for each analysis were chosen by forward selection model. Focus group interviews revealed that participants in the intervention found the treatment helpful and could point to improvements in their lives. Results suggest that an inquiry-based intervention with a nonclinical population may mitigate chronic stress.
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Byron Katie is renowned for her process she termed The Work, after her personal experiences with depression in her early thirties. This successful process of self-inquiry began in 1986 and assists individuals in awakening to their suffering while providing tools on how to live an empowered, joyful life.