Facing the fear of failure: An explorative qualitative study of client experiences in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program for university students with academic evaluation anxiety
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate the subjective experiences of 29 university students who participated in an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for academic evaluation anxiety. Participants who self-referred to the Student Counseling Service underwent individual semi-structured interviews about how they experienced the personal relevance and practical usefulness of taking the MBSR program. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed through a team-based explorative-reflective thematic approach based on a hermeneutic-phenomenological epistemology. Five salient patterns of meaning (themes) were found: (1) finding an inner source of calm, (2) sharing a human struggle, (3) staying focused in learning situations, (4) moving from fear to curiosity in academic learning, and (5) feeling more self-acceptance when facing difficult situations. We contextualize these findings in relation to existing research, discuss our own process of reflexivity, highlight important limitations of this study, and suggest possible implications for future research.