Mindfulness intervention with homeless youth

BENDER Kimberley, et al
Journal article citation:
Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 6(4), 2015, pp.491-513.
Society for Social Work and Research

Objectives: Mindfulness-based interventions demonstrate promise in helping individuals cultivate awareness of risks, thereby decreasing likelihood of revictimisation; however, mindfulness-based approaches with homeless youth have received little empirical attention. This mixed-methods study investigates a mindfulness-based intervention for homeless youth, investigating (a) quantitatively - to what extent is the intervention effective in increasing youths’ mindfulness over time? and (b) qualitatively - in observing homeless youths’ participation in the mindfulness groups, what strategies appear most helpful in engaging them in this mindfulness intervention and what challenges are encountered? Methods: Using a randomised experimental design, the current study pilot tests an intensive (3 day), skill-building intervention to train homeless youth (N = 97, ages 18–21 years) to practice mindfulness and avoid risks. Youths’ mindfulness was assessed via standardised self-report instruments at baseline and post-intervention (1 week post baseline for youth in the control condition). Results: Repeated-measures ANOVA results indicate that although no effect was found on total mindfulness, a significant effect was found for mindfulness subscales. Intervention youth improved in their observation skills significantly more than control youth (F[1] = 3.88, p < .05, partial-η2 = .05). Qualitatively, certain intervention strategies (i.e., facilitating, personal sharing, teaching, and peer activation) demonstrated notable utility in actively engaging youth in mindfulness material, whereas challenges (meeting basic needs, a fight or flight instinct, and a generalised distrust of service providers) created challenges in implementing mindfulness skills. Conclusion: The intervention improved youths’ attention to internal and external stimuli yet future iterations will need to continue to modify to meet the unique needs of this population. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
young people, homelessness, intervention, therapies, mindfulness;
Content type:
United States
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