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01-05-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 5/2015

Journal of Child and Family Studies 5/2015

Teaching Mindfulness to Middle School Students and Homeless Youth in School Classrooms

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 5/2015
Auteurs:
David P. Viafora, Sally G. Mathiesen, Sara J. Unsworth

Abstract

As taught to youth, mindfulness is simply paying attention, with kindness and curiosity, to what’s happening inside and outside of oneself, in this present moment. A quickly growing research base is demonstrating treatment feasibility and acceptability, and a range of emotional, meta-cognitive, and behavioral benefits with various populations of youth. Only a few studies have explored mindfulness with middle school students, and no studies have evaluated mindfulness training with youth facing homelessness. Our purpose was to evaluate the acceptability, generalizability, and overall effectiveness of an 8-week mindfulness course for traditional middle school students and middle school students facing homelessness. A quasi-experimental design included two treatment groups and a non-equivalent comparison group: (1) students in traditional classrooms (n = 28), (2) those attending a school serving homeless youth (n = 15), and (3) waitlisted students (n = 20). We reviewed student reported changes from pre- to post-test and post-course evaluations, which included open-ended writing about mindfulness practice. Students in traditional classrooms improved significantly in mindful awareness and acceptance, whereas students facing homelessness reported significantly higher evaluations of the course, greater emotional well-being from mindfulness practice, and were more likely to use mindfulness practice at school, in interpersonal situations, for dealing with anger and other difficult emotions, and to recommend it to friends. There were no significant findings in some outcome measures. The study offers optimistic prospects for further evaluations with adolescents in domains of stress, anger, quality of life, and academic behavioral indices over time, and to assess the effectiveness of teacher trainings for mindfulness instructors.

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