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Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock delivers a talk on her cutting-edge research at the interface of individual and team mindfulness at the ‘Mental Health: Working in the System’ conference.

By Mr Shamim Quadir(Senior Communications Officer), Published

Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock is Co-director of the Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research (CEMR) at City, University of London. Her research studies and bridges the gap between the well-established body of research supporting the benefits of individual mindfulness practice and the burgeoning science on team and collective mindfulness.

On Saturday 18 March, Dr Mortlock was one of four speakers at an online conference held by the London Open University Psychological Society (LOUPS) and the Department of Psychology at the School of Health & Psychological Sciences at City, entitled, ‘Mental Health: Working in the System.’

The conference talks were targeted at people working towards careers in psychology, social care and research to find out what sort of work psychologists do who are employed in these areas.

The talks included, ‘How can psychotherapy in prisons help both prisoners and the public?’ from Mary Haley, Head of Psychotherapy, HMP Grendon; ‘The School Bullying Research Program: how and why the program developed and practical outcomes for intervention,’ from Professor Peter Smith, Goldsmiths, University of London; ‘The Mental Health of Healthcare Workers: what do we know and what can we do about it?’ from Professor Neil Greenberg, King's College, London; and Dr Mortlock’s talk, ‘Slowing down to speed up - Next-generation mindfulness training in military teams.’

Watch a recording of Dr Mortlock’s talk below:

Slowing down to speed up (Dr Jutta Tobias-Mortlock) - YouTube

Dr Mortlock’s hour-long talk was wide ranging. It began with the assertion that in the 21st century, with increasing pressures on individuals in societies to ‘speed up,’ what is actually needed is a non-intuitive response, that is to actually, ‘slow down’ and for which she described her approach to mindfulness that she uses in her research with teams in the military, i.e. teams which are working under high stress conditions, and from which we may all be able to learn from.

She then provided an outline for the rest of her talk that broadly covered what is involved in her field of research into work place mindfulness, in order to help the audience understand the talk’s direction and what they would learn:

  1. The research gap in mindfulness training for people at work

  2. Defining the unique selling point (USP) for this work

  3. Finding a field research partner

  4. Translating theory into context-specific practice

  5. Measure, measure, measure – how do you know this is making any positive difference?

  6. Test, retest, repeat

  7. Knowledge-sharing

  8. Ok so what does this mean for me?

The talk included time for audience exercises to test their preconceptions of mindfulness, and their understanding of the themes communicated in the talk: such as on what might be helpful vs unhelpful about being enthusiastic about mindfulness, and on understanding how one’s family might operate as a mindful organisation.

Dr Mortlock also showed where her research fits within the existing knowledge base of research into individual based mindfulness practice, including the well-known work of Jon Kabat Zinn at MIT and Emeritus Professor Mark Williams at the University of Oxford, and the contrasting work of Professor Ellen Langer at Harvard University and Professor Karl Weick at the University of Michigan into cultivating awareness of oneself in the context teams and organisations.

Reflecting on her work and the response of the conference audience to her talk, Dr Mortlock said:

It’s always such a joy to support the Open University Psychology Society in helping students gain more insights into working as psychologists! I was thrilled to talk a little bit about my work and share a laugh with the conference participants – kudos to them all for logging on to an online conference on a cold Saturday in March!

Find out more

Visit City, University of London's Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research