Photo of Dr. Nedra LanderNedra R. Lander, Ph.D., C.Psych. is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, and has served as a clinical psychologist at The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Photo of Dr. Danielle Nahon

Danielle Nahon, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a clinical psychologist with a community psychological practice, and serves as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ottawa.

As clinical psychologists, authors, and educators, Nedra and Danielle have evolved the Integrity model, a values- and morality-based approach providing a philosophical framework for a mindful and meaningful understanding of self, life and daily living. Their co-authored book,The Integrity Model of Existential Psychotherapy in Working with the “Difficult Patient” (Routledge) elucidates the philosophical framework of Integrity and its applicability across demographics and environmental constructs. Special areas of focus include gender issues, organizational health, issues in academic medicine and physician wellness, mentoring, diversity, disability, clinical populations, therapeutic impasses, and spirituality.


Mindfulness and meaningfulness with a twist: An Integrity model perspective

Life’s journey begins with conception and ends with death. It is within this “in-between” that meaning and mindfulness flourish or wither. Actually, this “in-between” is the equivalent of Buber’s “Between”, where the dialogic intimacy is nurtured as each stands naked and alone, revealed by their behaviours which are fuelled by their value systems. The famous psychologist, O.H. Mowrer was one of the first to focus on today’s issues of morality, mindfulness and meaningfulness, with a different twist.

This paper will present the Integrity model’s understanding of mindfulness and meaningfulness in daily living. This Integrity model focusses on the choice of how one perceives and preserves the story-line of living, without (a) denial of death; (b) blind pursuit of happiness; nor (c) a tendency to deny an affirmation of sorrow (Lander & Nahon, 2010). It is both a stand-alone and integrative model that explores how one can live daily life mindfully and meaningfully.

Philosophical Underpinnings: The Integrity Model

Expanding on Mowrer’s Integrity (Therapy) Group approach, formulated from the mid-1940’s to mid-80’s, Lander and Nahon have evolved the Integrity model which offers the first wellness and value-based model of psychotherapy (eg. Mowrer, 1953, 1964; Lander & Nahon, 1992, 2005, 2010). This model is based on the assumption that the human being is a valuing animal. Its basic inviolate principles: The degree of distress or angst in one’s life reflects the degree of personal violation of one’s very own values. Integrity is operationally defined as a 3-legged stool of honesty, responsibility, and emotional closure/increased community. Integrity requires all three components to be present in order for Integrity to exist at a given time in a given context. Any interaction, decision by a person, institution, or government, product or service can be analysed as to its level of Integrity by the presence or absence of the three components (eg. Mowrer, 1953, 1964; Lander & Nahon, 1995, 2000, 2012).

Lander and Nahon (2010) have acknowledged the work of others who have examined the roles of values in psychotherapy, including Van Deurzen-Smith, Wong and Hayes.

 An Integrity model of Mindfulness

 The Integrity model emphasizes the need to hold all individuals responsible for their emotions and behaviours and how they choose to express them, emphasizing the roles of moral soundness and meaningfulness of life. It clarifies the notion of meaningfulness by offering a practical approach towards honouring one’s values and thereby finding a sense of greater meaning and purpose in one’s life.

Mowrer’s insightful view of the human being as a valuing animal provides the organizational underpinning for being-in-the-world. This fidelity to a value system which results in behavioural expressiveness in daily life is what brings a sense of meaningfulness to one’ daily activities. The Integrity model allows each one of to focus on what we are doing, and to reflect on the whys and why nots regarding any course of action. In becoming ever-mindful of our values, we can always explain whenever asked, why we did, said, or did not say something; there is never the risk of not knowing. By living in this manner, we discover the efficacy and resiliency of self; by having come through life’s ordeals, we are able to work in the present on rebuilding our lives, and gain a new mastery of being-in-the-world.