Mentalizing Imagery Therapy Promotes Connectedness to Nature and Reduces Depression: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Ashley Meyer, BA

Massachusetts General Hospital
Mentalizing Imagery Therapy Promotes Connectedness to Nature and Reduces Depression: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Scientific Abstract

Background: Family caregivers of individuals with dementia face several obstacles and are at increased risk for developing depression. This secondary analysis of a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) in family caregivers sought to identify whether Mentalizing Imagery Therapy (MIT), a mindfulness and guided imagery intervention focusing on understanding of self and others and ecological interconnectedness, would promote self-reported connectedness to nature, and whether these changes were associated with improvement in depressive symptoms.

Methods: Dementia caregivers (N = 46) were randomized to a 4-week group MIT intervention vs. a psychosocial support group. Measures were administered at baseline, immediately post- intervention completion, and 4 months post-intervention, and included self-reported depression, mindfulness and connectedness to nature (CNS). Mixed linear models were employed to determine group x time differences in measures. Nonparametric partial correlations assessed the association among changes in measures, adjusting for baseline scores and group assignment.

Results: There were salutary increases in CNS and mindfulness scores, and beneficial reductions in depression scores in the MIT group relative to the psychosocial support group from pre- to post-intervention (p < .05), with maintenance of group differences at 4 months. Change in depression was negatively correlated with change in CNS (rho (41) = -.32, p < .05). There was a trend level correlation for change in the FFMQ observing subscale and change in CNS (rho (41) = .27, p< .1).

Conclusions: In this randomized controlled trial, MIT was superior to the psychosocial support group in improving connectedness to nature, mindfulness, and depressive symptoms.

Correlational findings support our hypothesis that increasing CNS is associated with depressive symptom improvement. The relationship between the capacity to mindfully observe daily experience and CNS should be studied in larger samples.

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research Areas

Authors

Ashley Kristen Meyer, BA, Liliana A. Ramirez Gomez, MD, Maren B. Nyer, PhD, Richard Liu, PhD, Hitoshi Sakurai, MD, PhD, David Mischoulon, MD, PhD, Joseph Zamaria, PsyD, Simmie Foster, MD, PhD, Emma Hayden, BS, Paola Pedrelli, PhD, Felipe Ananda Jain, MD

Principal Investigator

Felipe Jain, MD

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