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Benefits of an Arts-Based Mindfulness Group Intervention for Vulnerable Children

Abstract

We discuss qualitative and quantitative research findings from a study exploring the benefits and effectiveness of a 12-week arts-based mindfulness group program for vulnerable children (children who were involved with the child welfare or mental health systems and experienced a variety of challenges). Using post-group individual interviews with children/guardians, and pre and post-intervention self-report data (using the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale and the Resiliency Scales for Children and Adolescents), we hypothesized that children would have improved resilience and self-concept after having completed the program. Interpretive thematic qualitative analysis was conducted using transcribed interview data collected from 47 children (30 girls and 17 boys with a mean age of 10.38 years). The perceived benefits of participating in the group included improved (a) emotion regulation, (b) mood, (c) coping/social skills, (d) confidence and self-esteem, (e) empathy, and (f) ability to pay attention and focus. The quantitative analysis used self-report data from 77 children (43 girls and 34 boys with a mean age of 10.34 years). A repeated measures MANOVA was used to examine changes across the intervention period. Our hypothesis that children would have better scores on self-concept after having completed the program was partially supported and this result reflected the perceived improvements derived from the qualitative analysis. The hypothesis that resilience would improve post-group was not supported. Using these promising results, we discuss how strengths-based and arts-based mindfulness group methods may be effective in engaging vulnerable children in a beneficial helping process.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported in part by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Sick Kids Foundation. We would like to acknowledge the two organizations that cooperated with this study: The Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin, and the Child and Family Centre.

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Correspondence to Diana A. Coholic.

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Coholic, D.A., Eys, M. Benefits of an Arts-Based Mindfulness Group Intervention for Vulnerable Children. Child Adolesc Soc Work J 33, 1–13 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-015-0431-3

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Keywords

  • Arts-based
  • Mindfulness
  • Vulnerable children
  • Group work
  • Strengths-based