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Dr. Jonathan Appel

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Research Indicates How Important Family Relationships Are to Our Mental Health "Mindfulness"

Research has linked better relationships with your family-of-origin to better mental health measures, but it may also be associated with a healthy sense of “mindfulness."

Washington, DC, August 19, 2011 --( According to a recent study conducted by Dr. Jonathan Appel, a professor of psychology at Tiffin University, and his wife Dr. Dohee Kim-Appel, a therapist at Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services in Tiffin, Ohio—the quality of our family relationships color much of our psychological development, our ability to balance emotions with constructive thinking, and our ability to be “mindful” of self and others.

In an August 6th presentation entitled “The Relationship Between Bowen’s Concept of Differentiation of Self and Measurements of Mindfulness” at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Appel and his wife Dr. Kim-Appel, presented their findings based on a number of individuals in various relationship types and how it connects to a mindful perspective of the self and the world.

Mindfulness is a concept that has taken quite a hold on the therapeutic world in recent years. Educational and counseling techniques that induce “mindfulness” are increasingly being employed in psychology, psychotherapy, and in self-help programs to understand and alleviate a variety of mental and even physical conditions. The skill of mindfulness suggests that one would be accurately aware of the present moment in the surrounding environment; one’s emotions, relationships, as well as self-motivations. The Appels state that they found mindfulness very connected to "differentiation of self" or the ability to relate with others without losing one’s healthy sense of self or becoming too emotionally overwhelmed by others. Research indicates mindfulness activates the medial prefrontal brain regions, which plays a prominent role in empathy, a better sense of self, and a decrease in anxious or depressive self-obsession.

“Our family relationships are usually the most intense relationships and families know how to push each other’s buttons. Our research suggests that targeting both mindfulness and the health of one’s family relationships should very much improve one’s mental health and even other core relationships, such as work relationships,” states Dr. Jonathan Appel.

“Relationships seem to be such core concept to our psychological well-being—perhaps even more so then what we understand or have acknowledged in the mental health fields. The world is really a series of relationships--and this appears critical to our health and our view of the world. Relationships represent our very core nature as human beings,” adds Dr. Dohee Kim-Appel.

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