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Investigation of the effectiveness of a mindfulness intervention with vulnerable young people

Abdullahzadeh, Anna (2017) Investigation of the effectiveness of a mindfulness intervention with vulnerable young people. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist tradition which has found a place in the West especially as a therapeutic intervention. The evidence base continues to expand but most of the previous work has been undertaken with adults, with relatively limited research involving children and young people. The study was conceived, devised and designed within a CAMHS setting and therefore much attention has been paid to this aspect. However circumstances necessitated change and the main mindfulness sessions were finally delivered in a special educational establishment. The young participants were vulnerable young people who were essentially similar to the clinical population for which it was initially envisaged. As such the study has some similarity to the mindfulness in schools programme but with a different population. The aim was to deliver a mindfulness-based intervention to no more than ten vulnerable young people in a group format giving consideration to how this might impact on them. The research was approached from a relativist social constructionist stance but was essentially one of mixed methods. The study was to be evaluated in a number of different ways. These were a focus group held with the young people, individual interviews with their parents and outcome measures delivered in the form of self-report questionnaires (mainly those in regular use in Child Mental Health). These questionnaires were completed before and after the sessions in a single case evaluation method. The pilot group was held within CAMHS and contributed to the format of the main group where eight sessions of mindfulness meditation practices and psycho-educational information were delivered to the young people. The study found that the process was well received by the young people with some favourable results and reports of less overall stress in some of the young people. The position of parents proved to be important in terms of their support and interaction with mindfulness. Those young people whose parents engaged with them in mindfulness did better. Future projects would do well to focus on more inclusion of parents. The findings also showed that not everybody would benefit and it would seem to be important for participants to opt in to the project. The eight sessions of intervention were comparatively short considering some other therapeutic interventions. Thus it can be cost effective and not too difficult to deliver providing that clinicians have the implementation skills. There would seem to be potential to develop the method in terms of treatment for future service delivery with vulnerable young people in a number of settings. The study will be of interest to clinicians and others working with vulnerable young people and also may draw the attention of service providers as a potential way to capitalise on a treatment initiative. Additionally it will be of interest to those within education settings, particularly those in special education seeking to promote the emotional health of their students.

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