Be Better Parents with Online Mindful Parenting

Be Better Parents with Online Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Managing our own emotions and behaviors is the key to teaching kids how to manage theirs. . . Unfortunately, when you’re stressed out, exhausted, and overwhelmed, you can’t be available for your child.” – Jill Cedar

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. They demand attention and seem to especially when parental attention is needed elsewhere. They don’t always conform to parental dictates or aspirations for their behavior. The challenges of parenting require that the parents be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. It improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction.

 

Mindful parenting involves the parents having emotional awareness of themselves and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child. Mindful parenting has been shown to have positive benefits for both the parents and the children.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many parents can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with parents’ busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness trainings over the internet have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these online trainings in reducing parental stress and improving parenting.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Randomized Control Trial Evaluating an Online Mindful Parenting Training for Mothers With Elevated Parental Stress.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6650592/), Potharst and colleagues recruited mothers who were high in perceived stress and reported parenting problems. The mothers were randomly assigned to either receive an online mindful parenting program or to a wait list control condition. The online mindful parenting program consisted of 8 weekly session with instructions and exercises on meditation, mindful parenting, and self-compassion. They were measured before and after the training and 10 weeks later after the wait list group had received the intervention for parental stress, overreactive parenting discipline, mindful parenting, self-compassion, anxiety, and depression. In addition, both parents rated the child for child aggressive behavior and emotional reactivity.

 

They found that the online mindful parenting program in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group produced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, overreactive parenting discipline, parental role restriction and child emotional reactivity and significant increases in self-compassion.

 

These results suggest that an online mindful parenting program can be successfully implemented and that it significantly improves the psychological health of the mothers, their parenting, and the child’s behavior. Mindful parenting has been previously shown to have positive benefits for both the parents and the children. The contribution of the present study is in demonstrating that mindful parenting can be successfully conducted online with stressed mothers. This greatly increases the ability to roll out this effective program to a much wider audience at low cost.

 

Parenting is difficult and stressful enough under the best of conditions. It is encouraging to find a relatively simple, convenient and inexpensive program that can help the parents to become better parents and to ease their psychological burden.

 

So, be better parents with online mindful parenting.

 

It seems there’s no one right way to parent mindfully. Happily, there are many right ways. Sometimes “It’s as simple as practicing paying full attention to our kids, with openness and compassion, and maybe that’s enough at any moment.” – Juliann Garey

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Potharst, E. S., Boekhorst, M., Cuijlits, I., van Broekhoven, K., Jacobs, A., Spek, V., … Pop, V. (2019). A Randomized Control Trial Evaluating an Online Mindful Parenting Training for Mothers With Elevated Parental Stress. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1550. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01550

 

Abstract

Objectives

The prevalence of maternal stress in early years of parenting can negatively impact child development. Therefore, there is a need for an early intervention that is easily accessible and low in costs. The current study examined the effectiveness of an 8-session online mindful parenting training for mothers with elevated levels of parental stress.

Methods

A total of 76 mothers were randomized into an intervention (n = 43) or a waitlist control group (n = 33). The intervention group completed pretest assessment prior to the online intervention. Participants completed a post intervention assessment after the 10 weeks intervention and a follow-up assessment 10 weeks later. The waitlist group completed waitlist assessment, followed by a 10-week waitlist period. After these 10 weeks, a pretest assessment took place, after which the waitlist group participants also started the intervention, followed by the posttest assessment. Participating mothers completed questionnaires on parental stress (parent-child interaction problems, parenting problems, parental role restriction) and other maternal (over-reactive parenting discipline, self-compassion, symptoms of depression and anxiety) and child outcomes (aggressive behavior and emotional reactivity) while the non-participating parents (father or another mother) were asked to also report on child outcomes.

Results

The online mindful parenting intervention was shown to be significantly more effective at a 95% level than a waitlist period with regard to over-reactive parenting discipline and symptoms of depression and anxiety (small and medium effect sizes), and significantly more effective at a 90% level with regard to self-compassion, and mother-rated child aggressive behavior and child emotional reactivity (small effect sizes). The primary outcome, parental stress, was found to have a 95% significant within-group effect only for the subscale parental role restriction (delayed small effect size improvement at follow-up). No significant improvements on child outcomes were found for the non-participating parent.

Conclusion

To conclude, the results provide first evidence that an online mindful parenting training may be an easily accessible and valuable intervention for mothers with elevated levels of parental stress.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6650592/

 

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Happy Martin Luther King Day with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

The United State celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday. This is unusual as Dr. King was not a president or a general or a founding father. What he was a leader who changed the country and the lives of countless people with love, forgiveness, morality, and non-violence. There are few leaders in modern world history who had a greater impact using  only the power of moral authority and non-violent leadership. Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela qualify. I can think of no better reason to have a national holiday than to celebrate this remarkable life.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was no Pollyanna. He understood completely the dangers of confronting hate directly. In fact, he said “If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.” What is remarkable about this statement is that he saw the struggle against hate not as a way to gain benefit for himself or his followers, but as a means to help the perpetrators of hate to become better people. He didn’t vilify, be saw the redemptive opportunity to change hearts and minds.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. confronted hate not with force, violence, or more hate, but with love and understanding. As he said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Like mindfulness, he promulgated loving kindness and compassion as means to change the individual and thereby change the society. “I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Hate feeds on hate and when it is confronted with love it has nothing to feed on and can starve the beast. When an angry and hateful person is confronted with non-violence and compassion it can negate it and have a remarkable transformative effect on the person, making it much harder to hate. This Dr. King understood.

 

With mindfulness we can, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did, see each individual, regardless of whether their actions are good or bad, regardless of their race, faith, or national origin, and regardless of their sexual orientation as human beings deserving of love and understanding. Mindfulness reveals that humans in their essence are all alike. It is the lack of mindfulness that has led to varying beliefs and actions. It is mindlessness that fuels anger and hate.

 

With mindfulness we can fully experience and appreciate our own anger and hate and its effects upon our bodies and minds. We all experience these states during our lives. They can take over and result in hurtful behavior. But by being mindfully aware of how we feel in our bodies and the thoughts that arise when we become angry and hateful, we can better recognize these states when they first arise. This allows us to accept them as they are and respond to them in a more appropriate, constructive, and loving manner. This requires mindfulness practice with sensitivity and attention to the feelings in the present moment. But if it is practiced, then over time we become better and better at recognizing anger and hate and transforming them into insight and understanding.

 

One of the ways that mindfulness can transform anger and hate is by replacing it with peacefulness. Mindfulness practices teach how to find inner peace and equanimity. It shows us that peacefulness is always there and can be produced when needed. This inner peacefulness can be used as a refuge from emotional turmoil. We can learn to use this training to confront anger, fear, and hatred by recognizing when these states arise and using our ability to find inner peace to replace these feelings with calm and equanimity. This is not something that can be accomplished without practice. But it can be learned through mindfulness practices.

 

The more mindful we become the better and better able we become at recognizing when anger and hate are arising and responding by replacing them with peacefulness. An important process involved in this is what is called mindful non-reactivity. This allows us to respond to anger and hate with non-violence. With practice, the events of the present moment do not necessarily produce reflexive negative behaviors. The reflexes can be interrupted and prevented from emerging and producing harm. Hence, practicing mindfulness can help us to become like Dr. King practicing non-violence.

 

Within each of us are the seeds of racism. Some believe that evolution imbedded these seeds in the DNA. For many of us in the older generations we were trained in racism by the structure of society that promoted distance, a sense of other, strangeness and fear. Mindfulness can help each of us uproot the seeds of this racism. By becoming more aware of our inner life we become better able to recognize when racist thoughts and feeling begin to arise and not only not respond to them but to transform them into their opposites, feelings of acceptance, understanding, and love. Looking deeply into our inner life in the present moment is essential to overcoming our own racism.

 

The dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr for a just and loving society can be produced by mindfulness practices. What better way to honor this remarkable man than to practice mindfulness on his holiday and to make a commitment to continue this practice throughout the year and to become non-violent and tolerant and to confront anger and hate with loving kindness and compassion.

 

So, celebrate Martin Luther King day with Mindfulness.

 

Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

 

In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Tai Chi Practice

Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Tai Chi Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai Chi exercises can improve blood glucose levels and improve the control of type 2 diabetes and immune system response.” – Medical News Today

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type 2 Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Current treatments for Type 2 Diabetes focus on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetesTai Chi is mindfulness practice and a gentle exercise. As such, it is reasonable to investigate its usefulness in preventing and treating Type 2 Diabetes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi for type 2 diabetes mellitus.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6513484/), Zhou and colleagues review and summarize the published research randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. They report on 8 published randomized controlled trials.

 

The published studies found that in general Tai Chi practice produces significant improvements in the metabolic profile of Type 2 Diabetes patients including a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose levels, plasma HbA1c, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and body mass index (BMI). For fasting blood glucose levels, plasma HbA1c these reductions were greatest when Tai Chi had been practiced for at least 3 months.

 

These results suggest that Tai Chi practiced for at least 3 months is effective in treating Type 2 diabetes. It is important to recognize that Tai Chi is a gentle and safe exercise that is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses. Also, Tai Chi is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Tai Chi practice would appear to be an almost ideal gentle exercise to treat Type 2 Diabetes.

 

So, improve type 2 diabetes with Tai Chi practice.

 

Diet and exercise are the cornerstone of diabetes management. People with diabetes who exercise regularly have better control over their blood glucose levels and fewer complications such as heart disease and stroke. Many people, however, are unable to keep up with their regular exercise because they either don’t enjoy it, or have a problem finding time to exercise. Tai chi offers a major advantage: It’s enjoyable, and to many, it’s almost addictive.” – Paul Lam

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zhou, J., Zhang, H., Shi, G., Zhang, L., Liu, H., Qin, Y., & Yang, J. (2018). Tai Chi for type 2 diabetes mellitus. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2018(7), CD009717. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009717.pub2

 

Abstract

This is a protocol for a Cochrane Review (Intervention). The objectives are as follows:

To assess the effects of Tai Chi for type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Background

Description of the condition

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder resulting from a defect in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. A consequence of this is chronic hyperglycaemia (that is elevated levels of plasma glucose) with disturbances of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. Long‐term complications of diabetes mellitus include retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy. The risk of cardiovascular disease is also increased. For a detailed overview of diabetes mellitus, please see under ‘Additional information’ in the information on the Cochrane Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders Group in the Cochrane Library (see ‘About’, ‘Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs)’).

Description of the intervention

Exercise or physical activity is one of the principal therapies for type 2 diabetes (Kirk 2007). A systematic review found that exercise can significantly reduce glycosylated haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels by 0.6% (Thomas 2006). The rate of aerobic and resistance exercise necessary to achieve metabolic benefits in clinical trials has sometimes resulted in poor compliance (Brandon 2003), because a large proportion of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus do not follow recommended physical activity guidelines (Mokdad 2003). A low‐impact, low‐intensity exercise such as Tai Chi may reduce poor compliance in this population and provide a beneficial alternative.

Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art that has been practised for many centuries. The three major components of Tai Chi are movement, meditation and deep breathing (Li 2001a). There are various perspectives on how Tai Chi works. Eastern philosophy holds that Tai Chi unblocks the flow of ‘Qi’. When Qi flows properly, the body, mind and spirit are in balance and health is maintained (Cohen 1997). Others believe that Tai Chi works in the same way as other mind‐body therapies, i.e. the connection between the mind and the body can relieve stress, combat disease and enhance physical well‐being (Li 2001aQiang 2010). Tai Chi combines deep diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation with movement, including many fundamental postural stances, and Qi is said to flow imperceptibly and smoothly from one to the other through slow and soft activity (Chinese Sport 1983). Physical responses to Tai Chi do not exceed 55% of maximum oxygen intake or 60% of the individual maximum heart rate (Li 2001b).

Adverse effects of the intervention

Exercise may lead to hypoglycaemia, falls, injuries, pain or fatigue.

How the intervention might work

A meta‐analysis showed that exercise significantly improves glycaemic control and reduces visceral adipose tissue and plasma triglycerides, but not plasma cholesterol, in people with type 2 diabetes, independently of weight loss (Thomas 2006). Tai Chi is a low‐impact, low‐intensity exercise, and people with diabetes who exercise regularly have better glycaemia control and cardiovascular outcomes than those who do not exercise (Kuramoto 2006Li 2001b). Tai Chi also has an impact on muscle mass through slow and gentle movements (Orr 2006; Qin 2005).

An insulin receptor defect is an important risk factor in the pathology of type 2 diabetes (Youngren 2007). Tai Chi exercise may increase insulin sensitivity (Wang 2008). Furthermore, Tai Chi enhances type 1 T helper function along with an increase in blood interleukin (IL)‐12 levels in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (Yeh 2009).

Why it is important to do this review

Exercise is one of the principal therapies for type 2 diabetes mellitus and has definite effects and few side effects. Exercise interventions significantly improve glycaemic control, as indicated by a decrease in HbA1c. Tai Chi may be especially useful for elderly type 2 diabetes patients. Although Tai Chi may improve insulin sensitivity and lead to better glucose control, the evidence of the effects of Tai Chi on type 2 diabetes are still limited and conflicting. A systematic review of the effects of Tai Chi on type 2 diabetes is warranted.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6513484/

 

Reduce Muscular Spasticity After Stroke with Mindfulness

Reduce Muscular Spasticity After Stroke with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness can have a profound effect on stroke rehabilitation by changing your brain and increasing motivation to recover.” – Flint Rehab

 

Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke and it is the third leading cause of death, killing around 140,000 Americans each year. A stroke results from an interruption of the blood supply to the brain, depriving it of needed oxygen and nutrients. This can result in the death of brain cells and depending on the extent of the damage produce profound loss of function. Even after recovery from stroke patients can experience residual symptoms. Problems with balance and falling are very common. About 30% of stroke survivors develop spasticity, where the muscles become stiff, tighten up, and resist stretching. Obviously, spasticity can interfere with regaining movement after stroke.

 

The ancient mindful movement technique Tai Chi and Qigong are very safe forms of gentle exercise that appears to be beneficial for stroke victims including improving balance. Tai Chi involves both gentle exercise and mindfulness practice. This raises the possibility that mindfulness practice by itself may be beneficial for stroke victims.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Meditation Effects on Poststroke Spasticity: A Feasibility Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6585237/), Wathugala and colleagues recruited stroke patients with spasticity, aged 45 to 76 tears and provided them with a 14 day mindfulness training program with one guided session and 13 home practice sessions including body scan and sitting meditations. They were measured before and after training for spasticity, upper limb sensorimotor impairments, quality of life, anxiety, depression, and mindfulness.

 

They found that the mindfulness training resulted in a significant reduction in spasticity and improvements in the quality of life facets of energy, personality, and work productivity. In addition, the greater the self-reported quality of meditation the greater the reduction in spasticity. Written comments from the participants indicated that they enjoyed the meditations and believed that they were beneficial.

 

This was a small feasibility study without a control group. But it produced encouraging results that support conducting a large randomized controlled trial. The results suggest that a relatively brief, 2-week, mindfulness training may be beneficial for stroke patients with spasticity. It is not known how mindfulness training might reduce spasticity. But it can be speculated that the ability of mindfulness training to produce relaxation, reduce perceived stress, and to improve the regulation of emotions may be responsible.

 

So, reduce muscular spasticity after stroke with mindfulness.

 

“the combination of listening to music and practicing mindfulness can improve the lives of individuals recovering from stroke.” – Taylor Bennett

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wathugala, M., Saldana, D., Juliano, J. M., Chan, J., & Liew, S. L. (2019). Mindfulness Meditation Effects on Poststroke Spasticity: A Feasibility Study. Journal of evidence-based integrative medicine, 24, 2515690X19855941. doi:10.1177/2515690X19855941

 

Abstract

This study examined the feasibility of an adapted 2-week mindfulness meditation protocol for chronic stroke survivors. In addition, preliminary effects of this adapted intervention on spasticity and quality of life in individuals after stroke were explored. Ten chronic stroke survivors with spasticity listened to 2 weeks of short mindfulness meditation recordings, adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course, in a pre/post repeated measures design. Measures of spasticity, quality of life, mindfulness, and anxiety, along with qualitative data from participants’ daily journals, were assessed. On average, participants reported meditating 12.5 days of the full 15 days (mean 12.5 days, SD 0.94, range 8-15 days). Seven of the 10 participants wrote comments in their journals. In addition, there were no adverse effects due to the intervention. Exploratory preliminary analyses also showed statistically significant improvements in spasticity in both the elbow (P = .032) and wrist (P = .023) after 2 weeks of meditation, along with improvements in quality of life measures for Energy (P = .013), Personality (P = .026), and Work/Productivity (P = .032). This feasibility study suggests that individuals with spasticity following stroke are able to adhere to a 2-week home-based mindfulness meditation program. In addition, preliminary results also suggest that this adapted, short mindfulness meditation program might be a promising approach for individuals with spasticity following stroke. Future research should expand on these preliminary findings with a larger sample size and control group.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6585237/

 

Reduce Depression Produced by Internet Addiction with Mindfulness

Reduce Depression Produced by Internet Addiction with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As we get more connected to our wireless technology, we appear to run the risk of damaging our brains’ wiring, and disconnecting from the face-to-face interaction that our social and psychological systems need. With its emphasis on harnessing attention with intention (i.e. redirecting it on purpose), mindfulness—with all its scientifically-established health and well-being benefits—has the potential to keep us from drifting hopelessly away from one another.” – Mitch Abblett

 

Over the last few decades the internet has gone from a rare curiosity to the dominant mode of electronic communications. In fact, it has become a dominant force in daily life, occupying large amounts of time and attention. As useful as the internet may be, it can also produce negative consequences. “Problematic Internet Use” is now considered a behavioral addiction, with almost half of participants in one study considered “Internet addicts”, developing greater levels of “tolerance” and experiencing “withdrawal” and distress when deprived. This phenomenon is so new that there is little understanding of its nature, causes, and consequences and how to treat it.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful with each of the components of addictions, decreasing cravings, impulsiveness, and psychological and physiological responses to stress, and increasing emotion regulation.  It is no wonder then that mindfulness training has been found to be effective for the treatment of a variety of addictions. Hence, there is a need to further explore the consequences of internet addiction and the relationship of mindfulness with internet addiction and its consequences.

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet Addiction and Depression in Chinese Adolescents: A Moderated Mediation Model.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6865207/), Chi and colleagues recruited middle school students (aged 11 to 15 years) and had them complete a questionnaire measuring internet addiction, depression, positive youth development (measuring positive psychological qualities), and mindfulness.

 

They found that 20% of the youths showed symptoms of internet addiction and 24% showed symptoms of depression. They also observed that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of depression and internet addiction and the higher the levels of positive youth development. On the other hand, the higher the levels of internet addiction the lower the levels of mindfulness and positive youth development and the higher the levels of depression. They also found mediation. The positive relationship between internet addiction and depression was present when mindfulness was low but not when it was high. Similarly, the negative relationship between depression and positive youth development was present when mindfulness was low but not when it was high.

 

These results are correlative and caution must be exercised in concluding causation. Nevertheless, the results replicate previous findings of mindfulness being negatively related to depression and internet addiction and positively related to positive psychological qualities. But the present findings add to these understandings by demonstrating that being addicted to the internet is related to higher depression and lower positive psychological qualities. Importantly, they found that mindfulness moderates the relationships between depression and both internet addiction and positive psychological qualities. High levels of mindfulness appear to prevent internet addiction from producing depression and from depression reducing positive psychological qualities.

 

Internet addiction is a growing problem especially in youths. These results are encouraging though that mindfulness not only is related to less internet addiction but also appears to blunt the relationships of internet addiction with depression and positive psychological qualities. This suggests that training in mindfulness with youths may help prevent addiction to the internet and its consequent effects on depression and youth development. Testing this remains for future research.

 

So, reduce depression produced by internet addiction with mindfulness.

 

when correctly practised and administered, mindfulness meditation is a safe, non-invasive, and cost-effective tool for treating behavioural addictions and for improving psychological health more generally.” – Mark Griffiths

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chi, X., Liu, X., Guo, T., Wu, M., & Chen, X. (2019). Internet Addiction and Depression in Chinese Adolescents: A Moderated Mediation Model. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, 816. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00816

 

Abstract

Research has revealed that Internet addiction is a risk factor for adolescents’ development of depressive symptoms, although the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. The present study examines the mediating role of positive youth development and the moderating role of mindfulness to determine the association between Internet addiction and depression. A sample of 522 Chinese adolescents completed measures related to Internet addiction, positive youth development, mindfulness, depression, and their background information, for which the results reveal that positive youth development mediates the relation between Internet addiction and depression. Moreover, the associations between both Internet addiction and depression as well as positive youth development and depression are moderated by mindfulness. These two effects were stronger for adolescents with low mindfulness than for those with high mindfulness. The present study contributes to a more thorough understanding of how and when Internet addiction increases the risk of depression in adolescents, suggesting that Internet addiction may affect adolescent depression through positive youth development and that mindfulness can alleviate the negative effect of Internet addiction or a low level of psychological resources on depression. The implications for research and practice are finally discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6865207/

 

Mindfulness Is Associated with Better Marital Quality in Military Couples

Mindfulness Is Associated with Better Marital Quality in Military Couples

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness helps partners to regulate their own responses and more fully accept one another,” the researchers suggest, “resulting in less negative fallout from conflict when it arises.” – Linda Graham

 

Relationships can be difficult as two individuals can and do frequently disagree or misunderstand one another. This is amplified in marriage where the couple interacts daily and frequently have to resolve difficult issues. These conflicts can produce strong emotions and it is important to be able to regulate these emotions in order to keep them from interfering with rational solutions to the conflict. The success of marriage can often depend upon how well the couple handles these conflicts. In fact, it has been asserted that the inability to resolve conflicts underlies the majority of divorces. All this can be amplified with military marriages where one partner may be away on deployment for long periods.

 

Mindfulness may be helpful in navigating marital disputes, as it has been shown to improve the emotion regulation and decrease anger and anxiety. It may be a prerequisite for deep listening and consequently to resolving conflict. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to improve relationships. So, mindfulness may be a key to successful relationships. But little is known about mindfulness and military couples who are under the added stress of deployment.

 

In today’s Research News article “Actor-Partner Associations of Mindfulness and Marital Quality After Military Deployment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6820699/), Zamir and colleagues recruited heterosexual couples with the male in the military and having been deployed. Both members of the dyad were measured for mindfulness and marital quality.

 

They found that for both men and women the higher the levels of mindfulness the greater the marital quality. In addition, for both men and women the higher the level of mindfulness in one member of the dyad the higher the level of marital quality reported not only by themselves but also by their partner. Hence mindfulness is associated with higher marital quality for both members of a military marriage.

 

These results are correlational and conclusions about causation cannot be reached. But in previous manipulative research studies mindfulness has been shown to improve relationships. Hence, it is reasonable to speculate that mindfulness also produces better relationships in this particular group of military heterosexual couples confronting deployment. One implication of the work is that the military might consider mindfulness training to help couples cope with the stresses of deployment and maintain strong marriages.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better marital quality in military couples.

 

“Research continues to reveal benefits mindfulness training provides for soldiers both before and after combat. These benefits in some cases have the potential to be life-saving, both from improved situational awareness and stress resilience during battle and from decreasing the intensity and occurrence of posttraumatic stress symptoms, which are often linked to a high rate of veteran suicides.” – GoodTherapy

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zamir, O., Gewirtz, A. H., & Zhang, N. (2017). Actor-Partner Associations of Mindfulness and Marital Quality After Military Deployment. Family relations, 66(3), 412–424. doi:10.1111/fare.12266

 

Abstract

Objective:

To explore dyadic associations between mindfulness and marital quality and gender differences in these associations—that is, the relation of each dyad member’s mindfulness with his or her own marital quality and with his or her partner’s marital quality.

Background:

Recent studies have demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness for marital quality. However, associations of mindfulness and marital quality within and between partners are still unclear. In addition, despite marital challenges associated with deployment to war, the benefits of mindfulness for marital quality in military couples is yet unknown.

Method:

A sample of 228 military couples following deployment of the male partner to recent conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan completed an online survey measuring mindfulness and marital quality.

Results:

Actor–partner interdependence (APIM) analysis showed that, for both men and women, greater mindfulness was associated with one’s own and one’s partner’s higher marital quality. There were no gender differences in this pattern.

Conclusion:

Mindfulness engenders intra- and interpersonal benefits for the marital system in men and in women following deployment to war.

Implications:

The results emphasize the importance of a dyadic approach when examining the role of mindfulness in marital or family relations, and suggest that interventions designed to facilitate change in marital relationships in the context of deployment may benefit from integrating mindfulness-based training.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6820699/

 

Monitoring and Acceptance of the Present Moment Underlies Mindfulness’ Improving of Positive Emotions

Monitoring and Acceptance of the Present Moment Underlies Mindfulness’ Improving of Positive Emotions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“developing an orientation of acceptance toward present-moment experiences is a central mechanism of mindfulness interventions for boosting positive emotions in daily life.” – Emily Lindsay

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotions and their regulation. Practitioners demonstrate more positive and less negative emotions and the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, while responding to them in appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

The mechanisms by which mindfulness produces improved positive emotions have not been widely explored. In today’s Research News article “How mindfulness training promotes positive emotions: Dismantling acceptance skills training in two randomized controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296247/), Lindsay and colleagues performed 2 studies to examine the relative effectiveness of the acceptance of and monitoring the present moment components of mindfulness training for improving positive emotions.

 

In study 1 they recruited adult participants who were smartphone owners and who measured high in perceived stress and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control condition or to receive an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program consisting of meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion, and meeting once weekly for 2 hours for 8 weeks, including daily home practice. In one condition the MBSR program contained the normal instructions to monitor the present moment and to accept what is transpiring in the present moment without judgement (Monitor & Accept). In another condition the MBSR program contained a modified instruction that deleted all reference to acceptance an non-judging (Monitoring Only). Before and after training the participants completed measures of positive and negative emotions. In addition, the participants completed a measure of positive and negative emotions 5 times daily on their smartphones.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control group, both groups who received the MBSR training had progressive significant increases in positive emotions and decreases in negative emotions over the course of training. But the Monitor & Accept group had significantly greater increases in positive emotions especially happiness and significantly greater decreases in negative emotions especially hostility than the Monitor Only group.

 

In study 2 to prevent discussions of acceptance during group discussions there were no group meetings or discussions. Rather all mindfulness training was delivered over smartphones with daily 20-minute guided practice followed by 10 minutes of home practice for 14 days. The stressed participants were randomly assigned to a Monitor & Accept, Monitor Only, or Coping Control conditions. The Coping condition consisted of instructions on coping and reappraising emotions.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the Coping control group, both groups who received the mindfulness training had progressive significant increases in positive emotions and the Monitor & Accept group had significantly greater increases in positive emotions than the Monitor Only group. All 3 groups had significant decreases in negative emotions without significant differences between groups.

 

These results increase our understanding of the effectiveness of different components of mindfulness training in altering emotions. In particular, they indicate that both the monitoring and acceptance of present moment experience are important for increasing positive emotions in practitioners and that they act additively. The addition of acceptance of present moment experience to monitoring produces greater increases in positive emotions. The findings also suggest that MBSR training produces greater reductions in negative emotions than smartphone-based mindfulness training.

 

Emotions are very important and dictate our overall happiness and well-being. In fact, they are essential to mental health. Mindfulness training by improving emotions produces greater happiness, well-being, and mental health. The present studies suggest that both monitoring and acceptance of present moment experience are important for the improvement of emotions and should be emphasized in mindfulness trainings.

 

So, monitoring and acceptance of the present moment underlies mindfulness’ improving of positive emotions.

 

“In mindfulness practice, feelings are not good or bad; they just are what they are – emotions that might be comfortable or uncomfortable, easy or difficult.” – Living Well

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lindsay, E. K., Chin, B., Greco, C. M., Young, S., Brown, K. W., Wright, A., … Creswell, J. D. (2018). How mindfulness training promotes positive emotions: Dismantling acceptance skills training in two randomized controlled trials. Journal of personality and social psychology, 115(6), 944–973. doi:10.1037/pspa0000134

 

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation interventions – which train skills in monitoring present-moment experiences with a lens of acceptance – have shown promise for increasing positive emotions. Using a theory-based approach, we hypothesized that learning acceptance skills in mindfulness interventions helps people notice more positive experiences in daily life, and tested whether removing acceptance training from mindfulness interventions would eliminate intervention-related boosts in positive affect. In two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of stressed community adults, mindfulness skills were dismantled into two structurally equivalent interventions: (1) training in both monitoring and acceptance (Monitor+Accept) and (2) training in monitoring only (Monitor Only) without acceptance training. Study 1 tested 8-week group-based Monitor+Accept and Monitor Only interventions compared to a no treatment control group. Study 2 tested 2-week smartphone-based Monitor+Accept and Monitor Only interventions compared to an active control training. In both studies, end-of-day and momentary positive affect and negative affect were measured in daily life for three days pre- and post-intervention using ambulatory assessments. As predicted, across two RCTs, Monitor+Accept training increased positive affect compared to both Monitor Only and control groups. In Study 1, this effect was observed in end-of-day positive affect. In Study 2, this effect was found in both end-of-day and momentary positive affect outcomes. In contrast, all active interventions in Studies 1 and 2 decreased negative affect. These studies provide the first experimental evidence that developing an orientation of acceptance toward present-moment experiences is a central mechanism of mindfulness interventions for boosting positive emotions in daily life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296247/

 

Therapeutic Alliance is Important for Mindfulness Training to Improve the Psychological Health of Cancer Patients

Therapeutic Alliance is Important for Mindfulness Training to Improve the Psychological Health of Cancer Patients

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Both face-to-face and internet-based mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) reduced psychological distress compared with usual care in patients with cancer.” – Matthew Stenger

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Coping with the emotions and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. It is estimated that 15 million adults and children with a history of cancer are alive in the United States today. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. “Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer survivors are also at greater risk for developing second cancers and other health conditions.” National Cancer Survivors Day.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depressionMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) consists of mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). During therapy the patient is trained to investigate and alter aberrant thought patterns underlying their reactions to cancer. It is thought that the alliance between therapist and patient that is formed during treatment is important for the effectiveness of therapy. So, it would make sense to study the effectiveness of MBCT and the therapeutic alliance on the psychological distress of cancer patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Development of the Therapeutic Alliance and its Association With Internet-Based Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Distressed Cancer Patients: Secondary Analysis of a Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6827984/), Bisseling and colleagues recruited adult cancer patients and randomly assigned them to either a wait list control condition or to receive Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in a group setting in 8 weekly 2.5 hour sessions with daily homework or online in 8 weekly practice sessions with therapist feedback emails. The participants were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, mental well-being, and therapeutic alliance consisting of questions on “(1) how closely client and therapist agree on and are mutually engaged in the goals of treatment; (2) how closely client and therapist agree on how to reach the treatment goals; and (3) the degree of mutual trust, acceptance, and confidence between the client and therapist.

 

Of the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) participants significantly more dropped out of the online version (12.1%) than the group version(5.6%). The therapeutic alliance increased significantly over the intervention and did not differ between MBCT groups. They found that relative to baseline and the wait list control group MBCT training produced significant reductions in psychological distress and increases in mental well-being. In addition, the higher the level of therapeutic alliance at week 2 of the intervention the greater the reduction in psychological distress and increase in mental well-being over the program. Finally, they found that if the therapeutic alliance was weak at week 2 then there was less improvement in psychological distress in the group version of MBCT than the online version.

 

These results are in line with previous findings that mindfulness training produces improves mental well-being and decreases psychological distress in cancer patients, that online mindfulness training is effective, and that therapeutic alliance is important for the effectiveness of mindfulness training. These results suggest that the development of therapeutic alliance be emphasized in mindfulness training. It is interesting that therapeutic alliance can be just as effectively developed online as in person and that it is less responsive to early low therapeutic alliance. This may explain, in part, why online mindfulness training is very effective.

 

So, therapeutic alliance is important for mindfulness training to improve the psychological health of cancer patients.

 

mindfulness-based therapy is an effective way of treating anxiety and depression in cancer patients.” – Robert Zachariae

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Bisseling, E., Cillessen, L., Spinhoven, P., Schellekens, M., Compen, F., van der Lee, M., & Speckens, A. (2019). Development of the Therapeutic Alliance and its Association With Internet-Based Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Distressed Cancer Patients: Secondary Analysis of a Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of medical Internet research, 21(10), e14065. doi:10.2196/14065

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an evidence-based group-based psychological treatment in oncology, resulting in reduction of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Internet-based MBCT (eMBCT) has been found to be an effective alternative for MBCT. The therapeutic alliance (the bond between therapist and patient,) is known to have a significant impact on psychological treatment outcomes, including MBCT. A primary concern in the practice of eMBCT is whether a good therapeutic alliance can develop. Although evidence for the beneficial effect of therapist assistance on treatment outcome in internet-based interventions (IBIs) is accumulating, it is still unclear whether the therapeutic alliance is related to outcome in IBIs.

Objective

This study aimed to (1) explore whether early therapeutic alliance predicts treatment dropout in MBCT or eMBCT, (2) compare the development of the therapeutic alliance during eMBCT and MBCT, and (3) examine whether early therapeutic alliance is a predictor of the reduction of psychological distress and the increase of mental well-being at posttreatment in both conditions.

Methods

This study was part of a multicenter randomized controlled trial (n=245) on the effectiveness of MBCT or eMBCT for distressed cancer patients. The therapeutic alliance was measured at the start of week 2 (ie, early therapeutic alliance), week 5, and week 9. Outcome measures were psychological distress, measured with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and mental well-being, measured with the Mental Health Continuum-Short Form.

Results

The strength of early therapeutic alliance did not predict treatment dropout in MBCT or eMBCT (B=−.39; P=.21). Therapeutic alliance increased over time in both conditions (F2,90=16.46; Wilks λ=0.732; P<.001). This increase did not differ between eMBCT and MBCT (F1,91=0.114; P=.74). Therapeutic alliance at week 2 predicted a decrease in psychological distress (B=−.12; t 114=−2.656; P=.01) and an increase in mental well-being (B=.23; t 113=2.651; P=.01) at posttreatment. The relationship with reduction of psychological distress differed between treatments: a weaker early therapeutic alliance predicted higher psychological distress at posttreatment in MBCT but not in eMBCT (B=.22; t 113=2.261; P=.03).

Conclusions

A therapeutic alliance can develop in both eMBCT and MBCT. Findings revealed that the strength of early alliance did not predict treatment dropout. Furthermore, the level of therapeutic alliance predicted reduced psychological distress and increased mental well-being at posttreatment in both conditions. Interestingly, the strength of therapeutic alliance appeared to be more related to treatment outcome in group-based MBCT than in eMBCT.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6827984/

 

Improve the Psychological Health of Patients with Early Psychosis with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of Patients with Early Psychosis with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

for people with psychosis without severe social anxiety, learning mindfulness strategies in a group format is greatly appreciated and offers clear benefits—in terms of participants being more active, less depressed and less anxious.” – Tania Lecomte

 

Psychoses are mental health problems that cause people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them. This might involve hallucinations; seeing and, in some cases, feeling, smelling or tasting things that aren’t objectively there, or delusions; unshakable beliefs that, when examined rationally, are obviously untrue. The combination of hallucinations and delusional thinking can often severely disrupt perception, thinking, emotion, and behavior, making it difficult if not impossible to function in society without treatment. Psychoses appear to be highly heritable and involves changes in the brain. The symptoms of psychoses usually do not appear until late adolescence or early adulthood. There are, however, usually early signs of the onset of psychoses which present as cognitive impairments.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be beneficial for patients with psychosis. Implementing interventions early in the disease progression may maximize the benefits. It would be even better to intervene before full-blown symptoms emerge. Research in this area is accumulating. Hence, it makes sense to review and summarize the studies to assess the state of the understanding of the effectiveness of early intervention with mindfulness training in patients at risk for or in early stages of psychosis.

 

In today’s Research News article “Clinical Effects of Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Patients With First Episode Psychosis and in Individuals With Ultra-High Risk for Transition to Psychosis: A Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6837071/ ), Vignaud and colleagues reviewed and summarized the 9 published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the treatment of patients at ultra-high risk (1 article) for or in early stages (8 articles) of psychosis.

 

They report that the 9 published research studies found that mindfulness training was safe and effective and produced significant improvements in anxiety, depression and quality of life in these patients. There were insufficient studies assessing the positive and negative symptoms of psychosis to reach any conclusions. It would be useful for future studies to examine in more depth the positive and negative symptoms of psychosis.

 

It is well established that mindfulness training produces improvements in anxiety and depression and improves the quality of life in diverse types of patients. The findings of the present review suggest that it has these same benefits for patients at risk for or in early stages of psychosis. It was disappointing that the currently available findings did not include long-term follow-up. It would be important to establish whether mindfulness interventions early in the disease progression might reduce the deterioration that normally occurs over time.

 

So, improve the psychological health of patients with early psychosis with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness, is effective in alleviating distress in individuals with psychosis who are hearing voices.” – Batya Swift Yasgur

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Vignaud, P., Reilly, K. T., Donde, C., Haesebaert, F., & Brunelin, J. (2019). Clinical Effects of Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Patients With First Episode Psychosis and in Individuals With Ultra-High Risk for Transition to Psychosis: A Review. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 797. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00797

 

Abstract

Objectives: Recent clinical studies and meta-analyses have reported the clinical effects of mindfulness-based interventions as a complementary treatment for patients with schizophrenia, but their possible efficacy in patients with first episode of psychosis (FEP) and in individuals with ultra-high risk (UHR) of transition to psychosis is less clear. Here, we investigated the current evidence on the usefulness of mindfulness-based interventions in these two populations.

Methods: We conducted a systematic search of the literature according to the PRISMA guidelines.

Results: Among the 102 references retrieved, 9 responded to the inclusion criteria (8 in FEP patients and 1 in UHR individuals). In FEP patients, mindfulness interventions are well-tolerated and have a satisfactory level of adherence. The clinical benefits consist primarily of reduced anxiety and sadness and improved quality of life. None of the studies reported any increase in positive symptoms.

Conclusion: Future sham-controlled studies with large sample sizes are needed to definitively conclude on the clinical interest of mindfulness-based interventions in FEP patients and UHR individuals as well as to understand their underlying mechanisms of action.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6837071/

 

Improve the Psychological Health of Survivors of Childhood Maltreatment with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of Survivors of Childhood Maltreatment with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Because traumatic experience is often driven by avoidance of one’s core self, memories, and emotions, many people with unresolved or resolving developmental trauma struggle to remain present with themselves and others. . . Various forms of meditation, typically in the mindfulness tradition, can be helpful for this.” – Grant Brenner

 

“Child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. Exposure to intimate partner violence is also sometimes included as a form of child maltreatment” (World Health Organization, 2016)

 

This maltreatment is traumatic and can leave in its wake symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include persistent recurrent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, including flashbacks and nightmares, loss of interest in life, detachment from other people, increased anxiety and emotional arousal, including outbursts of anger, difficulty concentration, and jumpiness, startling easily. Unfortunately, childhood maltreatment can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. How individuals cope with childhood maltreatment helps determine the effects of the maltreatment on their mental health. It has been found that experiencing the feelings and thoughts completely allows for better coping. This can be provided by mindfulness. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Self-Compassion and Psychological Health Among Young Adults With a History of Childhood Maltreatment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6843003/), Joss and colleagues recruited meditation naïve adults who had experienced childhood maltreatment. They were randomly assigned either to a wait list or to receive a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program with 8 weekly, 2.5 hour sessions consisting of meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. They were also instructed to practice daily at home. They were measured before and after training for perceived stress, anxiety, depression, self-compassion, and mindfulness.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list controls, the participants who received the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program had significant decreases in perceived stress and anxiety and increases in self-compassion, with the greater the number of MBSR sessions attended the greater the size of the effects. They also found that the greater the severity of the childhood maltreatment the lower the effectiveness of the MBSR program. In addition, they found that the changes in mindfulness produced by MBSR affected both anxiety and stress both directly and indirectly via changes in self-compassion. So, higher mindfulness produced reductions in both anxiety and stress directly and also as a result of the changes in mindfulness producing increases in self-compassion that in turn produced reductions in anxiety and stress.

 

These results are not surprising as mindfulness training has been previously shown to reduce perceived stress and anxiety and increase self-compassion. But this study demonstrated that mindfulness training is effective for adults who experience maltreatment during childhood. Childhood maltreatment produces life-long negative consequences for the psychological health of the individual. The findings, then, are encouraging and suggest that mindfulness training can help in reducing these negative effects. It appears, though that the worse the maltreatment the harder it is for the mindfulness training to improve the victim’s mental health.

 

The findings suggest that mindfulness training improves the psychological health of childhood maltreatment victims, in part, by increasing the individual’s compassion for themselves. Self-compassion is “treating oneself with kindness and understanding when facing suffering, . . . and having a balanced awareness of painful thoughts and emotions” – (Kristin Neff).  Learning to have this compassion for oneself appears to be important for dealing with the consequences of childhood maltreatment. Mindfulness training can effectively elevate this self-compassion producing improved mental health.

 

So, improve the psychological health of survivors of childhood maltreatment with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness practice interventions in their various forms were found to have positive outcomes when addressing trauma children and adolescents and adults with childhood trauma.” – Margaret Fisher

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Joss, D., Khan, A., Lazar, S. W., & Teicher, M. H. (2019). Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Self-Compassion and Psychological Health Among Young Adults With a History of Childhood Maltreatment. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2373. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02373

 

Abstract

Background

Individuals who were maltreated during childhood are faced with increased risks for developing various psychological symptoms that are particularly resistant to traditional treatments. This pilot study investigated the effects of a mindfulness based behavioral intervention for young adults with a childhood maltreatment history.

Methods

This study looked at self-report psychological questionnaires from 20 subjects (5 males) before and after a mindfulness-based behavioral intervention, compared to 18 subjects (6 males) in the waiting list control group (age range 22–29); all subjects experienced mild-to-moderate childhood maltreatment. We analyzed changes in stress, anxiety, depression, mindfulness and self-compassion related to the intervention with linear mixed effects models; we also analyzed the relationships among questionnaire score changes with partial correlation analyses and mediation analysis.

Results

Linear mixed effects model analyses revealed significant group by time interaction on stress (p < 0.01), anxiety (p < 0.05), and self-compassion (p < 0.01), with the mindfulness group having significant reduction in stress and anxiety (p < 0.01), and significant increase in mindfulness (p < 0.05) and self-compassion (p < 0.001). Partial correlation analyses showed that among all subjects from both groups, changes in mindfulness positively correlated with changes in self-compassion (r = 0.578, p = 0.001), which negatively correlated with changes in depression (r = −0.374, p = 0.05) and anxiety (r = −0.395, p < 0.05). Changes in self-compassion mediated, in part, the relationship between changes in mindfulness and changes in anxiety (average causal mediation effect = −4.721, p < 0.05). We observed a dose-dependent effect of the treatment, i.e., the number of intervention sessions attended were negatively correlated with changes in stress (r = −0.674, p < 0.01), anxiety (r = −0.580, p < 0.01), and depression (r = −0.544, p < 0.05), after controlling for the individual differences in childhood maltreatment severity.

Conclusion

Our results suggest that, to some extent, the mindfulness-based intervention can be helpful for improving self-compassion and psychological health among young adults with a childhood maltreatment history.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6843003/