Reduce Stress and Enhance Academic Buoyancy in Adolescents with Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Reduce Stress and Enhance Academic Buoyancy in Adolescents with Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In the last few years mindfulness has emerged as a way of treating children and adolescents with conditions ranging from ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, depression and stress. And the benefits are proving to be tremendous.” – Julianne Garey

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

Mindfulness training in adults has been shown in adolescents to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health. A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

The original form of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), however, required a certified trained therapist. This resulted in costs that many clients couldn’t afford. In addition, the participants had to be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that were not always compatible with busy schedules and at locations that were not always convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness-based treatments delivered 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 ACT for adolescents when delivered over the internet.

 

In today’s Research News article “Reducing Stress and Enhancing Academic Buoyancy among Adolescents Using a Brief Web-based Program Based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6394525/ ), Puolakanaho and colleagues recruited adolescents in the 9th grade and randomly assigned them to receive a 5-week online program of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or to a no-treatment control condition. They were measured before and after the program for academic skills, reading fluency, math skills, stress, school stress, and academic buoyancy. Academic buoyancy “refers to a student’s capacity to overcome everyday academic life setbacks and challenges successfully.”

 

They found that 76% of the participants completed the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) program. They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment controls that ACT produced a significant reduction in overall stress levels and a significant increase in academic buoyancy. These findings suggest that ACT can be taught online to adolescents and successfully promote their ability to withstand the stress of adolescence and to promote their ability to overcome the challenges of school.

 

So, reduce stress and enhance academic buoyancy in adolescents with online acceptance and commitment therapy.

 

mindfulness is uniquely able to help adolescents navigate this time of growing autonomy, more complicated life challenges and heightened reactivity to stressors in their lives.” – Karen Pace

 

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

 

Puolakanaho, A., Lappalainen, R., Lappalainen, P., Muotka, J. S., Hirvonen, R., Eklund, K. M., Ahonen, T., … Kiuru, N. (2018). Reducing Stress and Enhancing Academic Buoyancy among Adolescents Using a Brief Web-based Program Based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of youth and adolescence, 48(2), 287-305.

 

Abstract

Acceptance and commitment therapy programs have rarely been used as preventive tools for alleviating stress and enhancing coping skills among adolescents. This randomized controlled trial examined the efficacy of a novel Finnish web- and mobile-delivered five-week intervention program called Youth COMPASS among a general sample of ninth-grade adolescents (n= 249, 49% females). The intervention group showed a small but significant decrease in overall stress (between-group Cohen’s d = 0.22) and an increase in academic buoyancy (d= 0.27). Academic skills did not influence the intervention gains, but the intervention gains were largest among high-stressed participants. The results suggest that the acceptance and commitment based Youth COMPASS program may be well suited for promoting adolescents’ well-being in the school context.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6394525/

 

Promote Well-Being in Adolescents with Spirituality

Promote Well-Being in Adolescents with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Call it faith. Call it spirituality. Call it zealotry. Our consciousness creates the reality that reflects it. If we feel apart, other, afraid, and deadened, we will live in a world that reflects and perpetuates these energies.” – Kelly Brogan

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. ”Spirituality has been promulgated as a solution to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

It makes sense, then, to investigate the influence of spirituality on the ability of youths to navigate this difficult time and develop positive qualities and better mental health. In today’s Research News article “A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A ), Kor and colleagues recruited adolescents aged 13 to 17 years and had them complete scales at baseline and 3 and 14 months later measuring character strength, optimism, spirituality, religiosity, transcendence, devotion, positive and negative emotions, life satisfaction, and prosociality.

 

They found that spirituality in adolescents was composed of spirituality, religiosity, transcendence, and devotion and was relatively stable over the 14-month measurement period. They found that the higher the levels of spirituality, the greater the levels of character strength, life satisfaction, positive emotions, and prosocial behaviors over all three measurement time points.

 

These findings are interesting but correlational. So, conclusions regarding causation cannot be reached. But the findings suggest that, surprisingly, spirituality does not fluctuate greatly over time in adolescents. They also suggest that spirituality is associated with a relatively satisfying and happy life that is engaged positively with other people. Hence, spirituality would appear to be a positive factor that is helpful to youths in maintaining well-being over the turbulent time of adolescence.

 

So, promote well-being in adolescents with spirituality.

 

“Both religion and spirituality can have a positive impact on mental health. In some ways, they provide the same impact. For example: Both religion and spirituality can help a person tolerate stress by generating peace, purpose and forgiveness.” – Laura Greenstein

 

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

 

Kor A, Pirutinsky S, Mikulincer M, Shoshani A and Miller L (2019) A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents. Front. Psychol. 10:377. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377

 

Using data from 1,352 middle-school Israeli adolescents, the current study examines the interface of spirituality and character strengths and its longitudinal contribution to subjective well-being and prosociality. Participants were approached three times over a 14-months period and completed measures of character strengths, spirituality, subjective well-being (positive emotions, life satisfaction), and prosociality. Findings revealed a fourth-factor structure of character strengths that included the typical tripartite classification of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual strengths together with spirituality emerging as a statistically autonomous factor. Spirituality was stable over time and contributed to higher subjective well-being and prosociality both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Discussion focuses on spirituality as a fundamental character strength and an important aspect of positive development.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Changing Neural Connectivity in Children and Adolescents

Mindfulness is Associated with Changing Neural Connectivity in Children and Adolescents

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness meditation training increases resting state connectivity between top-down executive control regions, highlighting an important mechanism through which it reduces stress levels.” Daniel Reed

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It even improves high level thinking known as executive function. Its positive effects are so widespread that it is difficult to find any other treatment of any kind with such broad beneficial effects on everything from thinking to mood and happiness to severe mental and physical illnesses. This raises the question of how mindfulness training could produce such widespread and varied benefits. One possibility is that mindfulness practice results in beneficial changes in the nervous system.

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

The brains of children and adolescents are different from fully mature adult brains. They are dynamically growing and changing. It is unclear how mindfulness affects their maturing brains. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and dynamic functional neural connectivity in children and adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5610942/ ), Marusak and colleagues examined the relationship of mindfulness with brain activity in the maturing brain. They recruited children and adolescents aged 7 to 17 years and measured them for mindfulness, anxiety, and depression.

 

The children and adolescents then had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Imaging (fMRI). The scans were evaluated for static connectivity, the relatively permanent connections between brain areas, and dynamic connectivity, the changing connections between areas. They looked specifically at 3 systems in the brain, the central executive network, associated with higher level thinking and attention, the salience and emotion network, associate with the importance of stimuli, and the default mode network, associated with mind wandering and self-referential thinking.

 

They found that mindfulness was associated with better mental health of the children and adolescents with high levels of mindfulness significantly associated with low levels of depression and anxiety. Mindfulness was also significantly associated with the amount of present-moment oriented thinking occurring during the brain scan session. Mindfulness was not associated with static connectivity within the children’s and adolescents’ brains.

 

With dynamic connectivity on the other hand, they found that mindfulness was associated with greater numbers of transitions between connectivity states. That is, the higher the levels of mindfulness the greater the number of times the connectivity pattern in the brain changed from one set of connections to another. Finally, they also found that the numbers of transitions between connectivity states mediated the association of mindfulness with lower anxiety, such that mindfulness was associated with lower anxiety both with a direct association of mindfulness with lower anxiety and indirectly by higher mindfulness being associated with greater dynamic connectivity which was in turn associated with lower anxiety.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness is associated with greater brain flexibility in transitioning from different states and this may allow for less anxiety. This suggests that mindfulness allows for greater ability to see things and evaluate what is occurring in different ways and this helps the youths to better appreciate what is happening and thereby lower anxiety. These are incredibly interesting findings that begin to reveal the neural dynamics occurring in children and adolescents that underlie the ability of mindfulness to improve mental health. Mindfulness isn’t associated with different brain connectivity structures in the brains but rather with different abilities to switch around in real time between systems and this improves mental health.

 

“Just 11 hours of learning a meditation technique induce positive structural changes in brain connectivity by boosting efficiency in a part of the brain that helps a person regulate behavior in accordance with their goals.” – University of Oregon

 

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

 

Marusak, H. A., Elrahal, F., Peters, C. A., Kundu, P., Lombardo, M. V., Calhoun, V. D., Goldberg, E. K., Cohen, C., Taub, J. W., … Rabinak, C. A. (2017). Mindfulness and dynamic functional neural connectivity in children and adolescents. Behavioural brain research, 336, 211-218.

 

Abstract

Background

Interventions that promote mindfulness consistently show salutary effects on cognition and emotional wellbeing in adults, and more recently, in children and adolescents. However, we lack understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying mindfulness in youth that should allow for more judicious application of these interventions in clinical and educational settings.

Methods

Using multi-echo multi-band fMRI, we examined dynamic (i.e., time-varying) and conventional static resting-state connectivity between core neurocognitive networks (i.e., salience/emotion, default mode, central executive) in 42 children and adolescents (ages 6–17).

Results

We found that trait mindfulness in youth relates to dynamic but not static resting-state connectivity. Specifically, more mindful youth transitioned more between brain states over the course of the scan, spent overall less time in a certain connectivity state, and showed a state-specific reduction in connectivity between salience/emotion and central executive networks. The number of state transitions mediated the link between higher mindfulness and lower anxiety, providing new insights into potential neural mechanisms underlying benefits of mindfulness on psychological health in youth.

Conclusions

Our results provide new evidence that mindfulness in youth relates to functional neural dynamics and interactions between neurocognitive networks, over time.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5610942/

 

Restrain Body Fatness Growth During Adolescence with Yoga

Restrain Body Fatness Growth During Adolescence with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Practicing yoga changes your mind: It changes the way you approach life, your body, and eating. Yoga shows you how to appreciate your body for all of the amazing things that it can do for you and points you in the direction of wanting to fill your body with the best possible fuel rather than processed junk food. And changing your mind about your body and the foods you feed it will be a much more effective weight-loss tool than burning a bunch of calories in an aggressive kick-boxing class and then mindlessly plowing through equal or more calories later that day.” – Heidi Kristoffer

 

Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (Body Mass Index; BMI > 25). Obesity has been found to shorten life expectancy by eight years and extreme obesity by 14 years. This occurs because obesity is associated with cardiovascular problems such as coronary heart disease and hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and others.

 

Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to prevent or treat overweight and obesity. But, despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective treatment. It would be important to intervene early during growth to restrain the growth of body fatness. Mindfulness is known to be associated with lower risk for obesityalter eating behavior and improve health in obesity. Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of physical and psychological benefits. These include significant loss in weight and body mass index (BMI), resting metabolism, and body fat in obese women with Type 2 diabetes and improves health in the obese. In addition, it has the added benefit of being a gentle exercise. Hence it would seem reasonable to further investigate the benefits of yoga practice on the weight and body composition during adolescence.

 

In today’s Research News article “How Is the Practice of Yoga Related to Weight Status? Population-Based Findings From Project EAT-IV.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5865393/ ), Neumark-Sztainer and colleagues utilized a longitudinal data set from Project EAT of adolescent Middle and High School students. They were measured for yoga practice, body size and demographic characteristics initially and after 5 years.

 

They found that 56.4% of females and 29.1% of males did some yoga while 20.5% of females and 6.1% of males practiced regularly in the past year. The frequency of yoga practice did not differ over weight status, but overweight adolescents were more likely to keep the yoga practice at a gentle level and less likely to engage in hot yoga or engage in a yoga class. Importantly, over the 5-year period the adolescents who practiced yoga had non-significant reductions in Body Mass Index (BMI), an index of body fatness while those that did not practice yoga had a significant increase in BMI. The adolescents who practiced yoga had significantly less body fatness gain over the 5-year period.

 

This study is important as it is a rare longitudinal look at body mass changes in adolescents over a 5-year period. But these results are correlational, so causation cannot be concluded. Nevertheless, the results are suggestive that adolescents benefit from yoga practice. They suggest that prolonged yoga practice works to restrain gain in body fatness during maturation. This could be very important during adolescence when body size is so important for the developing self-image and for social and romantic relationships, and is very important for their health and well-being later in life.

 

So, restrain body fatness growth during adolescence with yoga.

 

“Today urban society is stigmatized with chronic diseases. Unhealthy lifestyle is the main reason for the occurrence of chronic illness. BMI, is a reliable indicator of physical well-being of an individual, as there is urgent attention in the alarming rise of such diseases. Yoga works wonderful in stabilizing BMI and in restoring health.” – Minakshi Welukar

 

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

 

Neumark-Sztainer, D., MacLehose, R. F., Watts, A. W., Eisenberg, M. E., Laska, M. N., & Larson, N. (2017). How Is the Practice of Yoga Related to Weight Status? Population-Based Findings From Project EAT-IV. Journal of physical activity & health, 14(12), 905-912.

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga may provide a strategy for healthy weight management in young adults. This study examined prevalence and characteristics of young adults’ yoga practice and associations with changes in body mass index (BMI).

Methods

Surveys were completed by 1830 young adults (31.1±1.6 years) participating in Project EAT-IV. Cross-sectional and five-year longitudinal analyses were conducted stratified by initial weight status.

Results

Two-thirds (66.5%) of non-overweight women and 48.9% of overweight women reported ever doing yoga, while 27.2% of non-overweight women and 16.4% of overweight women practiced regularly (≥30 minutes/week). Fewer men practiced yoga. Among young adults practicing regularly (n=294), differences were identified in intensity, type, and location of yoga practice across weight status. Young adults who were overweight and practiced yoga regularly showed a non-significant five-year decrease in their BMI (−0.60 kg/m2; p=0.49), while those not practicing regularly had significant increases in their BMI (+1.37 kg/m2; p<0.01). Frequency of yoga was inversely associated with weight gain among both overweight and non-overweight young adults practicing yoga regularly.

Conclusions

Young adults of different body sizes practice yoga. Yoga was associated with less weight gain over time, particularly in overweight young adults. Practicing yoga on a regular basis may help with weight gain prevention.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5865393/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Anxiety and Depression in Adolescents Partly by Higher Emotional Intelligence

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Anxiety and Depression in Adolescents Partly by Higher Emotional Intelligence

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It is well-documented that mindfulness helps to relieve depression and anxiety in adults. A small but growing body of research shows that it may also improve adolescent resilience to stress through improved cognitive performance and emotional regulation. This is encouraging news for anyone concerned about the increasing rates of depressive symptoms and suicide rates among adolescents in the United States” – Malka Main

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

Mindfulness training in adults has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression levels and improve emotional regulation. In addition, in adolescents it has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health. In today’s Research News article “Does Emotional Intelligence Mediate the Relation Between Mindfulness and Anxiety and Depression in Adolescents?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02463/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_856297_69_Psycho_20181220_arts_A ), Foster and colleagues recruited 8th Grade students and had them complete an online questionnaire measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and emotional intelligence, including subscales for emotional recognition and expression, understanding emotions, motions direct cognition, and emotional management and control. The data were then subjected to regression analysis.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of emotional intelligence, overall and all subscales, and the lower the levels of anxiety and depression. They also found that the higher the levels of emotional intelligence, overall and all subscales, the higher the levels of mindfulness and the lower the levels of anxiety and depression. Performing a mediation analysis, they found that mindfulness was associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression directly and also indirectly by its association with emotional intelligence which in turn was associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression.

 

The study was correlational. So, no conclusions about causation can be reached. The results, however, suggest that adolescents are similar to adults in having clear relationships between mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and psychological health. Like adults, the adolescents’ levels of mindfulness and emotional intelligence are associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression. The results, though, also suggest that mindfulness’ association with anxiety and depression is partly by a direct association and partly indirectly through an association with emotional intelligence. This further highlights the fact that mindfulness is an important contributor to the development of an understanding of and ability to regulate emotions. It can’t be overemphasized how important this is for the adolescent in navigating the turbulent years of adolescence.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with lower anxiety and depression in adolescents partly by higher emotional intelligence.

 

“Anything that increases awareness helps with the struggle with depression, anxiety, and substance use. In terms of adolescents increasing awareness actually increases maturation—particularly if the practice is done in an environment leading to increased connection with others who understand your challenges.” – Michel Mennesson

 

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

 

Foster B, Lomas J, Downey L and Stough C (2018) Does Emotional Intelligence Mediate the Relation Between Mindfulness and Anxiety and Depression in Adolescents? Front. Psychol. 9:2463. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02463

 

High anxiety and depression are often observed in the Australian adolescent population, and if left untreated, can have long-term negative consequences impacting educational attainment and a range of important life outcomes. The utilization of mindfulness techniques has been associated with decreased anxiety and depression, but the underlying mechanisms for this is only beginning to be understood. Previous research with adult samples has suggested that the development of emotional intelligence (EI) may be one mechanism by which mindfulness confers its benefits on wellbeing. This study is the first to examine the relation between mindfulness, EI, anxiety, and depression in an adolescent population. It was hypothesized that EI would mediate the relationships between mindfulness and anxiety, as well as mindfulness and depression. The sample consisted of 108 adolescents from a public secondary school, aged between 13 and 15 years (Mage = 13.68, SDage = 0.56, 51 males and 57 females). Participants completed an online self-report questionnaire which measured dispositional mindfulness, EI, anxiety, and depression. The results indicated that one subscale of EI – Emotional Recognition and Expression (ERE) mediated the relation between mindfulness and anxiety, while two subscales of EI – ERE and Emotional Management and Control (EMC) mediated the relation between mindfulness and depression. Future research utilizing a mindfulness intervention should be conducted to examine whether the use of mindfulness increases EI and decreases anxiety and depression in adolescents.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02463/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_856297_69_Psycho_20181220_arts_A

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Higher Emotional Intelligence

Mindfulness is Associated with Higher Emotional Intelligence

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindful emotion regulation represents the capacity to remain mindfully aware at all times, irrespective of the apparent valence or magnitude of any emotion that is experienced. It does not entail suppression of the emotional experience, nor any specific attempts to reappraise or alter it in any way. Instead, MM involves a systematic retraining of awareness and nonreactivity, leading to defusion from whatever is experienced, and allowing the individual to more consciously choose those thoughts, emotions and sensations they will identify with, rather than habitually reacting to them. In this way, it erodes the automatic process of appraisal that gives rise to disturbing emotions in the first place” – Richard Chambers

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotion regulation. Practitioners demonstrate the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, but respond to them in more appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. This is a very important consequence of mindfulness. Humans are very emotional creatures and these emotions can be very pleasant, providing the spice of life. But when they get extreme, they can produce misery and even mental illness. 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.

 

Adolescence should be a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, emotional, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Making these profound changes successfully requires a good deal or flexibility, adapting and changing with the physical, psychological, and social changes of adolescence and particularly to regulating the extreme fluctuations of emotions occurring during this time.

 

Hence, developing mindfulness and emotional regulation is important especially during adolescence. In today’s Research News article “Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness: Relation and Enhancement in the Classroom With Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02162/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_830687_69_Psycho_20181120_arts_A ), Rodríguez-Ledo and colleagues examine the relationship between emotional intelligence and mindfulness in adolescent school students, aged 11 to 14 years. They were randomly assigned to receive either 9 months of once a week for 55 minutes mindfulness, attention, and emotional intelligence training or no training. The students were measured before and after training for emotional intelligence, emotional development, socialization, empathy, and mindfulness. The mindfulness measure included scales of kinesthetic, internal, and external mindfulness. Kinesthetic mindfulness was paying attention to movements, internal mindfulness was paying attention to mental and emotional states, while external mindfulness was paying attention to stimuli outside of the individual.

 

Examining the pretest measures they found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of emotional development, emotional intelligence, empathy, and self-control in social situations. The relationships with emotional development and emotional intelligence were especially strong for kinesthetic and internal mindfulness suggesting that the ability to attend to internal states is particularly important for understand and regulating their own emotions. The relationships with empathy was especially strong for external and internal mindfulness suggesting that the ability to attend to the environment and the internal state are particularly important for understanding others emotions. Finally, they found that the mindfulness training significantly increased kinesthetic and internal mindfulness.

 

These results are interesting and suggests that mindfulness training is effective in making school children more sensitive to their internal states and not to the external environment. Attention to these internal states appears to be related to emotional intelligence. So, adolescents can be trained in mindfulness of their internal milieu and this is related to their emotional intelligence. This makes sense as emotions are changes in internal states and the first step in regulating them is to become aware of them.

 

Since adolescence is a time of emotional upheaval, these skills may be particularly important for the navigation of this difficult time of development. It remains for future research to determine if mindfulness training of adolescents can have long lasting effects on their ability to regulate their emotions and successfully transition to adulthood.

 

“The appearance of things change according to the emotions and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.” – Kahlil Gibran

 

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

 

Rodríguez-Ledo C, Orejudo S, Cardoso MJ, Balaguer Á and Zarza-Alzugaray J (2018) Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness: Relation and Enhancement in the Classroom With Adolescents. Front. Psychol. 9:2162. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02162

 

Emotional intelligence (EI) and mindfulness are two constructs that have been separately studied, and the relation between them still remains unclear. Research in this area has not attempted to go further into how enhancing EI and mindfulness together can achieve better improvements in this ability to attend mindfully. To bridge this knowledge gap, our research goal was to study the relationship between EI and the mindfulness competence in our study sample and to assess the impact of implementing EI and a mindfulness competence developmental program (SEA) about participants’ mindfulness competence. The sample consisted of 156 students aged 11–14 years old from a Spanish public high school. One hundred and eight participants were randomly assigned to the experimental condition, and the remaining 48 were to the control condition. The instruments used to evaluate EI were the CDE-SEC, EQi-Youth Version and the General Empathy Scale. Mindfulness on the School Scope Scale was used to assess mindfulness competences. Social adaptation was evaluated by using the social abilities and adjustment questionnaire BAS3. All the instruments where answered by the participants and have been adapted to a sample of youths with such age specifications. The results showed that EI and mindfulness were related to many of the variables measured by the instruments. Showing a good mindfulness competence was particularly related to having a good general level of the EI trait, and to many of the assessed social and emotional variables. The data indicated a significant relation between the mindfulness competence and having better general empathy skills or being better socially adjusted to the school context. The data also indicated a significant effect on participants’ interior and kinesthetic mindfulness competence after implementing the SEA Program. These findings corroborate the relationship between EI and mindfulness, and the possibility of enhancing mindfulness by applying a direct intervention program in the classroom.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02162/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_830687_69_Psycho_20181120_arts_A

 

Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Adolescents with Yoga

Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Adolescents with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

But, after coming back to Vinyasa yoga, and making it a daily practice, my eating habits have completely changed. I now crave fruit, vegetables, whole grains and other yummy nutritional things. And I haven’t had to even think about it or “engage in battle” with my brain for one second. The healthy choice is the only choice I want.” – Leslie Lewis

 

Eating is produced by two categories of signals. Homeostatic signals emerge from the body’s need for nutrients, is associated with feelings of hunger, and usually work to balance intake with expenditure. Non-homeostatic eating, on the other hand, is not tied to nutrient needs or hunger but rather to the environment and or to the pleasurable and rewarding qualities of food. These cues can be powerful signals to eat even when there is no physical need for food.

 

Mindful eating involves paying attention to eating while it is occurring, including attention to the sight, smell, flavors, and textures of food, to the process of chewing and may help reduce intake by affecting the individual’s response to non-homeostatic cues for eating. Indeed, high levels of mindfulness are associated with lower levels of obesity. Hence, mindful eating may counter non-homeostatic eating. Yoga is a mindfulness technique and yoga practice has been found to reduce emotional eating, reduce eating disorders, and improve mental health and dieting in the obese. Hence, yoga practice may be a method to improve healthy eating and physical activity in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga’s potential for promoting healthy eating and physical activity behaviors among young adults: a mixed-methods study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5932774/ ), Watts and colleagues recruited middle and high school adolescents and had them complete measures of yoga practice, fruit and vegetable intake, sugar sweetened beverages, snack foods, fast foods, physical activity, and body size. A subset of the sample was recruited for qualitative interviews.

 

They found that those adolescents who practiced yoga had healthier diets and greater physical activity; including significantly greater consumption of fruits and vegetables and lower consumption of fast foods, snack foods, and sugar sweetened beverages. In addition, the greater the number of hours of yoga practice the better the diets and the greater the physical activity. In the interviews the adolescents indicated that yoga practice increased their mindful eating, cravings for healthier foods, and motivation for healthier eating, improved their management of stress and emotional eating. Also, they indicated that yoga practice increased their strength and flexibility and their desire to engage in other physical activities.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But the results suggest that practicing yoga is associated with a constellation of healthy practices including healthier eating and greater physical activity. This is important as adolescence is the time when eating disorders and obesity develop. It is also the time for the establishment of eating and exercise habits. Thus, yoga practice may be a means to intervene early in life to establish a healthier lifestyle and promote health and well-being throughout life. It remains for future research to examine the effects of training adolescents in yoga on their health and well-being.

 

So, promote healthy eating and physical activity in adolescents with yoga.

 

One of the unique aspects of yoga as an activity is its holistic approach. Yoga practitioners focus on both mental and physical well-being. Similarly, food yoga isn’t only about cooking and eating, it’s about considering your thoughts and emotions as well.” – Yalla Mediteranian

 

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

Watts, A. W., Rydell, S. A., Eisenberg, M. E., Laska, M. N., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2018). Yoga’s potential for promoting healthy eating and physical activity behaviors among young adults: a mixed-methods study. The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 15(1), 42. doi:10.1186/s12966-018-0674-4

 

Abstract

Background

A regular yoga practice may have benefits for young adult health, however, there is limited evidence available to guide yoga interventions targeting weight-related health. The present study explored the relationship between participation in yoga, healthy eating behaviors and physical activity among young adults.

Methods

The present mixed-methods study used data collected as part of wave 4 of Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults), a population-based cohort study in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Young adults (n = 1820) completed the Project EAT survey and a food frequency questionnaire, and a subset who reported practicing yoga additionally participated in semi-structured interviews (n = 46). Analyses of survey data were used to examine cross-sectional associations between the frequency of yoga practice, dietary behaviors (servings of fruits and vegetables (FV), sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and snack foods and frequency of fast food consumption), and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Thematic analysis of interview discussions further explored yoga’s perceived influence on eating and activity behaviors among interview participants.

Results

Regular yoga practice was associated with more servings of FV, fewer servings of SSBs and snack foods, less frequent fast food consumption, and more hours of MVPA. Interviews revealed that yoga supported healthy eating through motivation to eat healthfully, greater mindfulness, management of emotional eating, more healthy food cravings, and the influence of the yoga community. Yoga supported physical activity through activity as part of yoga practice, motivation to do other forms of activity, increased capacity to be active, and by complementing an active lifestyle.

Conclusions

Young adult yoga practitioners reported healthier eating behaviors and higher levels of physical activity than non-practitioners. Yoga should be investigated as an intervention for young adult health promotion and healthy weight management.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5932774/

 

Improve Adolescent’s Self-Compassion and Reduce Emotional Eating with Mindful Parenting

Improve Adolescent’s Self-Compassion and Reduce Emotional Eating with Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Interestingly, parents who simply had higher trait mindfulness did not see significantly better outcomes for their kids, suggesting that being mindful and being a mindful parent may be two different things.” – Jill Suttie

 

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. These challenges 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.

 

Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (BMI > 25). Sadly, children and adolescents have not been spared with 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) classified as obese. This can be particularly troubling to adolescents who are very sensitive regarding their bodies and appearance and can be the victim of ridicule or shaming by peers.

 

One helpful method to reduce intake and help to control body weight is mindful eating. It involves paying attention to eating while it is occurring, including attention to the sight, smell, flavors, and textures of food, to the process of chewing and may help reduce intake. Indeed, high levels of mindfulness are associated with lower levels of obesity and mindfulness training has been shown to reduce binge eating, emotional eating, and external eating. In addition, mindfulness has been shown to improve the individual’s ability to respond adaptively to emotions. Hence, mindfulness may be an antidote to emotional eating. It is not known if mindful parenting can reduce emotional eating in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Is Mindful Parenting Associated With Adolescents’ Emotional Eating? The Mediating Role of Adolescents’ Self-Compassion and Body Shame.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02004/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_812127_69_Psycho_20181030_arts_A ), Gouveia and colleagues recruited parent-adolescent dyads of mother or father and their 12-18 year old adolescent. The parents were measured for body size and mindful parenting. The adolescents were measured for body size, self-compassion, body shame, and emotional eating. The dyads were separated based upon the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the adolescents into normal weight and overweight and obese (BMI > 85th percentile) groups. They then performed a regression analysis of the data.

 

They found that the best fitting model of the data indicated that mindful parenting of the adolescents by the parents was associated indirectly with reduced emotional eating by the adolescents. The indirect path indicated that mindful parenting was associated with increased adolescent self-compassion which was in turn associated both with reduced emotional eating and reduced feelings of shame concerning their bodies which in turn was associated with reduced emotional eating. They also found that the facet of mindful parenting that was most associated with the benefits was the parents’ compassion for the child.

 

These results are correlational, so no conclusions regarding causation can be inferred. The results, however, are suggestive that the parents’ compassion for the child affects the child’s feelings of compassion toward itself which helps the child overcome feeling of shame about its body, all of which contribute to reduced eating in response to emotions. It remains for future research to determine if promoting parental compassion toward the adolescent may cause positive change in the adolescent, improving self-compassion, reducing body shame, and in turn reducing emotional eating.

 

So, improve adolescent’s self-compassion and reduce emotional eating with mindful parenting.

 

“Mindful parenting means that you bring your conscious attention to what’s happening, instead of getting hijacked by your emotions. . . It’s about accepting whatever is going on, rather than trying to change it or ignore it. Being a mindful parent means that you pay attention to what you’re feeling. It does not mean that you will not get angry or upset. Of course you will feel negative emotions, but acting on them mindlessly is what compromises our parenting.” – Parent Co

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

 

Gouveia MJ, Canavarro MC and Moreira H (2018) Is Mindful Parenting Associated With Adolescents’ Emotional Eating? The Mediating Role of Adolescents’ Self-Compassion and Body Shame. Front. Psychol. 9:2004. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02004

 

This study aimed to explore whether parents’ mindful parenting skills were associated with adolescents’ emotional eating through adolescents’ levels of self-compassion and body shame. The sample included 572 dyads composed of a mother or a father and his/her child (12–18 years old), with normal weight (BMI = 5–85th percentile) or with overweight/obesity with or without nutritional treatment (BMI ≥ 85th percentile) according to the WHO Child Growth Standards. Parents completed self-report measures of mindful parenting (Interpersonal Mindfulness in Parenting Scale), and adolescents completed measures of self-compassion (Self-Compassion Scale-Short Form), body shame (Experience of Shame Scale), and emotional eating (Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire). Two path models, one with the total score for mindful parenting and the other with its dimensions, were tested in AMOS. Mindful parenting, specifically the dimension of compassion for the child, was indirectly associated with emotional eating through adolescents’ self-compassion (point estimate = −0.27, p = 0.03, CI 95% [−0.61, −0.06]) and through self-compassion and body shame sequentially (point estimate = −0.19, p = 0.03, CI 95% [−0.37, −0.05]). The path model was invariant across weight groups but not across adolescents’ sex (the indirect effects were significant among girls only). This study provides a novel comprehensive model of how mindful parenting, especially the dimension of compassion for the child, can be associated with adolescents’ emotional eating behaviors by suggesting a potential sequence of mechanisms that may explain this association. This study suggests the beneficial effect of both mindful parenting and adolescents’ self-compassion skills for adolescent girls struggling with feelings of body shame and emotional eating behaviors.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02004/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_812127_69_Psycho_20181030_arts_A

 

Improve Emotional Responding in Adolescents with School-Based Mindfulness Training

Improve Emotional Responding in Adolescents with School-Based Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness has many benefits for students, including better sleep, increased focus, reduced stress and reduced challenges related to depression and anxiety,” – Patricia Lester

 

Adolescence should be a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But, adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health of adolescents.

 

Most measures of emotional responding are self-report subjective measures. The electrical responses of the brain, however, can be used to objectively measure emotional responding and attention. Evoked potentials are brain electrical responses to specific stimuli. The P3b response in the evoked potential is a positive going electrical response occurring between a 4.2 to 5.2 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The P3b response is thought to measure attention to emotional stimuli.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of school‐based mindfulness training on emotion processing and well‐being in adolescents: evidence from event‐related potentials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6175003/ ), Sanger and colleagues obtained the cooperation of 4 secondary schools and recruited 16-18 year old students from each. The adolescent students from two schools received mindfulness training while the adolescent students from the other two schools were assigned to a wait list. Mindfulness training occurred in 8, 50-minute sessions over a month in the regular school day. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, stress, depression, empathy, health and acceptability of the program.

 

In addition, the students’ Electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded while their attention was examined with an emotional oddball task. They watched a screen where the same two faces with neutral expressions were presented repeatedly, 80% of the time. Different happy or sad faces (oddball) were presented 20% of the time. The students were asked to press a space bar every time a happy or sad face appeared. The change in the EEG evoked by the faces was recorded as well as the speed and accuracy of the students’ responses. In particular the P3b evoked response was targeted. It consists of a positive going change in the evoked potential occurring 420-520 milliseconds after the stimulus. It is associated with attention to emotional stimuli.

 

They found that the size of the P3b evoked response to both the happy and the sad faces decreased over time in the control group suggesting a loss of responsivity to emotional stimuli (habituation) in the non-trained students. On the other hand, the size of the response did not decrease in the trained students, suggesting a lack of habituation, a maintained responsiveness to emotional stimuli. In addition, they found that the mindfulness trained group had fewer visits to the doctor for psychological reasons and increased overall well-being.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that mindfulness training help to maintain the adolescents’ attention to emotionally relevant stimuli. This may be helpful in maintaining socially appropriate responses to other peoples’ emotional expressions which would tend to improve social ability. This could be of great benefit during the awkward times of adolescence. In addition, the training appears to reduce psychological issues and improve the students’ well-being.

 

So, improve emotional responding in adolescents with school-based mindfulness training.

 

“Introducing mindfulness-based programs in schools and in everyday practice can have a life-long impact on the psychological, social, and cognitive well-being of children and teens. So go out and help your child to practice and enjoy simple mindfulness exercises when they are young.” – Courtney Ackerman

 

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

 

Sanger, K. L., Thierry, G., & Dorjee, D. (2018). Effects of school‐based mindfulness training on emotion processing and well‐being in adolescents: evidence from event‐related potentials. Developmental Science, 21(5), e12646. http://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12646

 

Abstract

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mindfulness training was associated with maintained P3b mean amplitudes to facial target stimuli, indicating sustained sensitivity to socially relevant, affective stimuli.
  • Trained students reported higher well‐being despite mindfulness course engagement being correlated with greater stress awareness.
  • Self‐reported changes in empathy correlated significantly with changes in P3b to emotional faces across groups.

In a non‐randomized controlled study, we investigated the efficacy of a school‐based mindfulness curriculum delivered by schoolteachers to older secondary school students (16–18 years). We measured changes in emotion processing indexed by P3b event‐related potential (ERP) modulations in an affective oddball task using static human faces. ERPs were recorded to happy and sad face oddballs presented in a stimulus stream of frequent faces with neutral expression, before and after 8 weeks of mindfulness training. Whilst the mean amplitude of the P3b, an ERP component typically elicited by infrequent oddballs, decreased between testing sessions in the control group, it remained unchanged in the training group. Significant increases in self‐reported well‐being and fewer doctor visits for mental health support were also reported in the training group as compared to controls. The observed habituation to emotional stimuli in controls thus contrasted with maintained sensitivity in mindfulness‐trained students. These results suggest that in‐school mindfulness training for adolescents has scope for increasing awareness of socially relevant emotional stimuli, irrespective of valence, and thus may decrease vulnerability to depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6175003/

Improve Psychological Health of Youthful Criminal Offenders with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health of Youthful Criminal Offenders with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“strengthening attention through mindfulness training may be a key route for reducing recidivism among young offenders, and highlight the need to teach detained youth strategies to improve cognitive and emotional control in the stressful detainment environment.” – Christopher James

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

Most of the research to date involves adult offenders. Mindfulness training for juvenile offenders, though, has the potential to change the course of young lives. But, little is known about the effects of mindfulness training on juvenile offenders. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Young Offenders: a Scoping Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153893/ ), Simpson and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for youths involved with the criminal justice system. They found 13 articles, 11 peer reviewed and 2 not, of the effects of mindfulness training on incarcerated youths.

 

They report that the literature found mixed results with some showing significant effects while others failing to reach statistical significance. But, in general, they report that mindfulness training significantly improves emotion regulation, quality of life, and mental well-being, including reductions in stress and anxiety, and significant reductions in criminal propensity in the youths.

 

Self reports by the participants suggested that they feel more relaxed, better able to manage stress, better self-regulatory skills, improved self-awareness and more optimism about future prospects. They also reported improved relationships, valuing kindness shown by the teacher and being part of a supportive environment in which they felt respected and valued. In addition, they reported that the training helped them develop more positive relationships with staff, peers and family; feel more in control; and were better able to cope with difficult feelings and impulses. They especially appreciated being treated with care, respect and humaneness.

 

Hence, although the evidence is mixed the literature in the main suggests that mindfulness training is of great benefit to incarcerated youths, improving mental health and their abilities to cope with their environment and situation, and some suggestion that they would be less likely to commit a future crime. Obviously, more controlled research is needed with larger samples, but the current findings are encouraging and suggest that mindfulness training might contribute to helping turn these youths around in more productive directions.

 

So, improve psychological health of youthful criminal offenders with Mindfulness.

 

“Although we don’t have direct evidence for this yet, we hypothesize that this repeated practice can translate into maintaining a focus on pro-social or non-violent goals in the course of youths’ daily lives, amidst the harsh conditions of incarceration or in the context of anti-social peers” – Noelle Leonard

 

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

 

Simpson, S., Mercer, S., Simpson, R., Lawrence, M., & Wyke, S. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Young Offenders: a Scoping Review. Mindfulness, 9(5), 1330–1343. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0892-5

 

Abstract

Youth offending is a problem worldwide. Young people in the criminal justice system have frequently experienced adverse childhood circumstances, mental health problems, difficulties regulating emotions and poor quality of life. Mindfulness-based interventions can help people manage problems resulting from these experiences, but their usefulness for youth offending populations is not clear. This review evaluated existing evidence for mindfulness-based interventions among such populations. To be included, each study used an intervention with at least one of the three core components of mindfulness-based stress reduction (breath awareness, body awareness, mindful movement) that was delivered to young people in prison or community rehabilitation programs. No restrictions were placed on methods used. Thirteen studies were included: three randomized controlled trials, one controlled trial, three pre-post study designs, three mixed-methods approaches and three qualitative studies. Pooled numbers (n = 842) comprised 99% males aged between 14 and 23. Interventions varied so it was not possible to identify an optimal approach in terms of content, dose or intensity. Studies found some improvement in various measures of mental health, self-regulation, problematic behaviour, substance use, quality of life and criminal propensity. In those studies measuring mindfulness, changes did not reach statistical significance. Qualitative studies reported participants feeling less stressed, better able to concentrate, manage emotions and behaviour, improved social skills and that the interventions were acceptable. Generally low study quality limits the generalizability of these findings. Greater clarity on intervention components and robust mixed-methods evaluation would improve clarity of reporting and better guide future youth offending prevention programs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153893/