Mind-Body Medicine Research Group
The work of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group is characterized by an abiding interest in how the mind and its attendant thoughts, feelings, psychological constructs and levels of stress can potentially influence physical and psychological well-being. This group, led by Cassandra Vieten, PhD, and John Astin, PhD, has focused its efforts in several areas. First is an ongoing exploration of the value of meditation-based interventions to help prevent relapse from addictive disorders. We have explored whether cultivating the capacity for greater mindfulness - or the ability to attend to one's present moment experience (thoughts, feelings, sensations, circumstances) with greater openness and acceptance and less habitual reactivity and judgment - can help those recovering from addictions better regulate distressing emotional states and reduce risk for relapse. A second area of interest has been exploring the potential value of mindfulness-oriented interventions to reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance mother-infant attachment during pregnancy and early postpartum. A large body of data has linked stress during pregnancy to a host of negative outcomes including greater likelihood of complications during labor and delivery; higher incidence of postpartum mood problems; and impaired fetal/infant development. Training in mindfulness has shown promise for reducing stress, improving mood, and even enhancing immunity and increasing brain activity associated with a positive emotions. Our pilot studies have shown that pregnant women attending the training had reduced stress and negative mood in comparison to women who did not attend the training.
Our research in these areas have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the California State Tobacco Related Disease Research Program, and the Bella Vista Foundation.
Back to top
Current Research Projects
Currently, the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group is conducting:
The Spiritual Engagement Project, a study to find out more about the ways that different levels of involvement in spiritual practices and communities influence people’s lives. This study is unique in that it will study people engaged in several non-traditional forms of spirituality, as well as people who do not engage in spiritual practices or communities at all. We will follow study participants over the course of one year measuring their engagement in spiritual practices and communities and their physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being, using online questionnaires, daily assessment methods, implicit measures, and corollary reports. For more information on this study, please visit the Spiritual Engagement Project.
Additionally, the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group is conducting another study in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco, titled Novel Interventions to Reduce Stress Induced Non-Homeostatic Eating in Pregnant Women. In this project, also called the MAMAS Study, we are developing psychosocial interventions for stress reduction (Mindfulness and Emotional Brain Training) to be used in addition to nutrition and exercise for promoting healthy weight gain during pregnancy in mid- to low-income pregnant women. For more information on this study, please visit the The MAMAS Study.
Back to top
John A. Astin, Ph.D.
The potential value of contemplative practices (e.g., meditation) to optimize mental and physical health.
Facilitating the integration of the biopsychosocial model in
medical training and practice.
Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D.
Addictions, emotion regulation, mind-body approaches to wellness; spirituality and health, and mindfulness-based interventions for pregnant and postpartum women
Back to top
Recovery and Mindfulness Resources in San Francisco
If you are in need of mental health services and you live in San Francisco, you can call: 415-255-3737, or 888-246-3333, at any time of the day or night. You should be able to see a counselor within 48 hours.
If you or a loved one are in crisis, you can call the Mobile Crisis Treatment Team. They can talk to you and visit you in your home. They are available Monday through Friday from 11 am -11 pm, or weekends, 12 noon - 7 pm. Their number is: 415-355-8300.
There is also the Westside Crisis drop-in located at 888 Turk Street. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am - 5 pm.
Resources in San Francisco
Back to top