Interoceptive Awareness for Women in Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Posted:Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Cynthia Price, PhD MA LMT, a researcher at the University of Washington and a long-standing volunteer at MTF, recently completed a 5-year study funded by NIH to examine the efficacy of a therapeutic approach that she developed called Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT) for women in outpatient treatment for substance use disorder.

The study was implemented in three community clinics, and was delivered by massage therapists trained in the MABT approach.  MABT involves manual, psychoeducational, and mindfulness and teaches clients to develop awareness of inner body sensations (also known as interoceptive awareness), and teaches related skills to facilitate self-care and emotion regulation.

The study participants had high levels of interpersonal trauma (e.g. 80% had a history of domestic violence, and the majority had a history of sexual trauma as children and/or adults).  MABT is particularly helpful for people who may be disconnected from their bodies due to high levels of distress, and is designed to facilitate reconnection and awareness skills using an incremental approach. The results showed significant improvements in interoceptive awareness as well as emotion regulation indicators among those who received MABT compared to those who did not.  Those who received MABT also had significantly less substance use compared to other study groups. The results of this study were recently published in Substance Abuse Journal and can be accessed here.