Evaluating the APAC (Mindfulness for Giftedness) Program in a Spanish Sample of Gifted Children: a Pilot Study

  • 224 Accesses

  • 4 Citations


Previous studies have found that gifted children experience symptoms such as existential anguish, anxiety, depression, experiential avoidance, and cognitive fusion. The inherent intensity and sensitivity of these young people may make them more susceptible to significant emotional distress and existential concerns. Endeavoring to address such issues, we designed a second-generation mindfulness-based intervention, called the “Atención plena para altas capacidades” (APAC; Mindfulness for Giftedness). This paper presents the pretreatment, posttreatment, and 12-month follow-up findings on the implementation of the program in a sample of 22 gifted children in Spain. The program comprised eight weekly 90-min group sessions covering mindfulness, emotional intelligence, emotional regulation, acceptance, values, compassion, and self-compassion. The program’s efficacy was measured using standardized, validated tools (the Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure, the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth, the Children’s Depression Inventory, the State Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule for Children, and the Emotional Skills and Competence Questionnaire) at pretreatment, posttreatment, and 12-month follow-up time periods.. Our study’s findings at the posttreatment stage suggested that the APAC program improved the emotional abilities and reduced negative symptoms. Results from the 12-month follow-up assessment stage appeared to uphold these findings. However, we recommend that future second-generation mindfulness-based interventions for gifted children should include more activities and exercises that address the meaning of life and other related existential worries of particular concern to these young people.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. Alsop, G. (2003). Asynchrony: intuitively valid and theoretically reliable. Roeper Review, 25(3), 118–127.

  2. Bergomi, C., Tschacher, W., & Kupper, Z. (2013). The assessment of mindfulness with self-report measures: existing scales and open issues. Mindfulness, 4(3), 191–202.

  3. Bethell, C., Gombojav, N., Solloway, M., & Wissow, L. (2016). Adverse childhood experiences, resilience and mindfulness-based approaches: common denominator issues for children with emotional, mental, or behavioral problems. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 25(2), 139–156.

  4. Burke, C. A. (2009). Mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents: a preliminary review of current research in an emergent field. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(2), 133–144.

  5. Burton, N., Pakenham, K., & Brown, W. (2010). Feasibility and effectiveness of psychosocial resilience training: a pilot study of the READY program. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 15(3), 266–277.

  6. Calvete, E., & Royuela-Colomer, E. (2016). Measurement of dispositional mindfulness in children and adolescents: a review of available self-report measures in Spanish. Mindfulness & Compassion, 1(2), 58–67.

  7. Campbell, D. T., & Stanley, J. T. (1963/2010). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for research. Chicago, Il: RandMcNally.

  8. Coyne, L. W., McHugh, L., & Martinez, E. R. (2011). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): advances and applications with children, adolescents, and families. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 20(2), 379–399.

  9. Cross, J. R., & Cross, T. L. (2015). Clinical and mental health issues in counseling the gifted individual. Journal of Counseling and Development, 93(2), 163–172.

  10. Daniels, S., & Piechowski, M. (2009). Living with intensity: emotional development of gifted children, adolescents, and adults. Tucson, AZ: Great Potential Press.

  11. Derevensky, J., & Coleman, E. B. (1989). Gifted children’s fears. Gifted Child Quarterly, 33(2), 65–68.

  12. Fakolade, O., & Archibong, I. (2013). Stress and intelligence: understanding and encouraging the exceptionally gifted and talented learners to cope with stress. African Journal for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, 16(1), 153–158.

  13. Faria, L., Lima Santos, N., Takšić, V., Raty, H., Molander, B., Holmstrom, S., Jansson, J., Avsec, A., Extremera, N., Férnandez-Berrocal, P., & Toyota, H. (2006). Cross-cultural validation of the Emotional Skills and Competence Questionnaire (ESCQ). Psicología, 20(2), 95–127.

  14. Figueras-Masip, A., Amador-Campos, J. A., Gómez-Benito, J., & del Barrio, V. (2010). Psychometric properties of the Children’s Depression Inventory in community and clinical sample. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 13(2), 990–999.

  15. Gagné, F. (2003). Transforming gifts into talents: the DMGT as a developmental theory. In N. Colangelo & G. A. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of gifted education (pp. 60–74). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

  16. Greco, L. A., Lambert, W., & Baer, R. (2008). Psychological inflexibility in childhood and adolescence: development and evaluation of the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth. Psychological Assessment, 20, 93–102.

  17. Greco, L. A., Baer, R. A., & Smith, G. T. (2011). Assessing mindfulness in children and adolescents: development and validation of the Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM). Psychological Assessment, 23(3), 606–614.

  18. Gross, M. (2003). Exceptionally gifted children (Second ed.). London: Routledge.

  19. Guignard, J. H., Jacquet, A. Y., & Lubart, T. I. (2012). Perfectionism and anxiety: a paradox in intellectual giftedness? PLoS One, 7(7), e41043.

  20. Haberlin, S. (2015). Don’t stress: what do we really know about teaching gifted children to cope with stress and anxiety? Gifted and Talented International, 30(1–2), 146–151.

  21. Harnett, P. H., & Dawe, S. (2012). The contribution of mindfulness-based therapies for children and families and proposed conceptual integration. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 17(4), 195–208.

  22. Heller, K. A., & Perleth, C. (2008). The Munich High Ability Test Battery (MHBT): a multidimensional, multimethod approach Psychology Science, 50(2), 173–188.

  23. Hill, C. L. M., & Updegraff, J. A. (2012). Mindfulness and its relationship to emotional regulation. Emotion, 12(1), 81–90.

  24. Hinterman, C., Burns, L., Hopwood, D., & Rogers, W. (2012). Mindfulness: seeking a more perfect approach to coping with life’s challenges. Mindfulness, 3(4), 275–281.

  25. Hughes, A. A., & Kendall, P. C. (2009). Psychometric properties of the Positive and Negative Affect Scale for Children (PANAS-C) in children with anxiety disorders. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 40(3), 343–352.

  26. Huynh, H., & Feldt, L. S. (1976). Estimation of the Box correction for degrees of freedom from sample data in randomized block and split-plot designs. Journal of Educational Statistics, 1(1), 69–82.

  27. Jensen, S., Dickie, E., Schwartz, D., Evans, C., Dumontheil, I., Paus, T., & Barker, E. (2015). Effect of early adversity and childhood internalizing symptoms on brain structure in young men. JAMA Pediatrics, 169(10), 938.

  28. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your mind to face stress, pain and illness. New York, NY: Dell Publishing.

  29. Kallapiran, K., Koo, S., Kirubakaran, R., & Hancock, K. (2015). Review: Effectiveness of mindfulness in improving mental health symptoms of children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 20(4), 182–194.

  30. Kemeny, M. E., Foltz, C., Cavanagh, J. F., Cullen, M., Giese-Davis, J., Jennings, P., et al. (2012). Contemplative/emotion training reduces negative emotional behavior and promotes prosocial responses. Emotion, 12(2), 338–350.

  31. Kovacs, M. (1992). Manual of the Children’s Depression Inventory. Toronto: Multi Health Systems MHS.

  32. Kuyken, W., Warren, F. C., Taylor, R. S., Whalley, B., Crane, C., Bondolfi, G., et al. (2016). Efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in prevention of depressive relapse an individual patient data meta-analysis from randomized trials. JAMA Psychiatry, 73(6), 1–24.

  33. Lamont, R. T. (2012). The fears and anxieties of gifted learners: tips for parents and educators. Gifted Child Today, 35(4), 271–276.

  34. Langer, A. I., Ulloa, V. G., Cangas, A. J., Rojas, G., & Krause, M. (2015). Mindfulness-based interventions in secondary education: a qualitative systematic review/Intervenciones basadas en mindfulness en educación secundaria: una revisión sistemática cualitativa. Estudios de Psicología, 36(3), 533–570.

  35. Lee, J., Semple, R. J., Rosa, D., & Miller, L. (2008). Cognitive therapy for children: results of a pilot study. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 22(1), 15–28.

  36. Logan, D. E., Claar, R. L., Guite, J. W., Kashikar-Zuck, S., Lynch-Jordan, A., Palermo, T. M., et al. (2013). Factor structure of the children’s depression inventory in a multisite sample of children and adolescents with chronic pain. The Journal of Pain: official journal of the American Pain Society, 14(7), 689–698.

  37. Lovecky, D. V. (1998). Spiritual sensitivity in gifted children. Roeper Review, 20(3), 178–183.

  38. Machů, E., & Morysová, D. (2016). Analysis of the emotion of fear in gifted children and its use in teaching practice. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 217, 222–228.

  39. Mauchly, J. W. (1940). Significance test for sphericity of a normal n-variate distribution. The Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 11(2), 204–209.

  40. Mayer, J. D. (2000). Spiritual intelligence or spiritual consciousness? International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 10(1), 47–56.

  41. Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2016). Seven principles of emotional intelligence the ability model of emotional intelligence: principles and updates. Emotion Review, 8(4), 290–300.

  42. Mendaglio, S. (2003). Heightened multifaceted sensitivity of gifted students: implications for counseling. Journal of Advanced Academics, 14(2), 72–82.

  43. Mestre, J. M., MacCann, C., Guil, R., & Roberts, R. D. (2016). Models of cognitive ability and emotion can better inform contemporary emotional intelligence frameworks. Emotion Review, 8(4), 322–330.

  44. Mrazek, M., Franklin, M., Phillips, D., Baird, B., & Schooler, J. (2013). Mindfulness training improves working memory capacity and GRE performance while reducing mind wandering. Psychological Science, 24(5), 776–781.

  45. Napoli, M., Krech, P. R., & Holley, L. C. (2005). Mindfulness training for elementary school students. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 99–125.

  46. Neihart, M., Reis, S. M., Robinson, N. M., & Moon, S. (2002). The social and emotional development of gifted children: what do we know? Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

  47. Nhat Hanh, T. (1976). The miracle of mindfulness: a manual for meditation. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

  48. Nyklíček, I. (2011). Mindfulness, emotion regulation, and well-being. Emotion Regulation and Well-Being, 8(1), 101–118.

  49. Peterson, J., Duncan, N., & Canady, K. (2009). A longitudinal study of negative life events, stress, and school experiences of gifted youth. Gifted Child Quarterly, 53(1), 34–49.

  50. Pickard, J. A., Caputi, P., & Grenyer, B. F. S. (2016). Mindfulness and emotional regulation as sequential mediators in the relationship between attachment security and depression. Personality and Individual Differences, 99, 179–183.

  51. Piechowski, M. M. (1979). Developmental potential. In N. Colangelo & R. T. Zaffrann (Eds.), New voices counseling the gifted (pp. 25–57). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

  52. Piechowski, M. M. (2003). Emotional and spiritual giftedness. In N. Colangelo & G. . Davis (Eds.), Handbook of gifted education (3rd ed., pp. 403–416). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

  53. Piechowski, M. M., & Chucker, J. (2011). Overexcitabilities. Encyclopedia of Creativity, 2, 202–208.

  54. Renshaw, T. L. (2016). Screening for psychological inflexibility: initial validation of the avoidance and fusion questionnaire for youth as a school mental health screener. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 35(5), 482–493.

  55. Ristallo, A., Schweiger, M., Oppo, A., Pergolizzi, F., Presti, G., & Moderato, P. (2016). Misurare la mindfulness in età evolutiva: Proprietà psicometriche e struttura fattoriale della versione italiana della Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (I-CAMM). Psicoterapia Cognitivo-Comportamentale, 22(3), 297–315.

  56. Sandín, B. (2004). Escalas Panas de afecto positivo y negativo para niños y adolescentes (PANASN). Revista de Psicopatología y Psicología Clínica, 8(2), 173–182.

  57. Schaerf, A. (2016). Mindfulness training for twice-exceptional adolescents. California State University, Northridge.

  58. Schutte, N. S., & Malouff, J. M. (2011). Emotional intelligence mediates the relationship between mindfulness and subjective well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(7), 1116–1119.

  59. Seely, K. (2004). Gifted and talented students at risk. Focus on Exceptional Children, 37(4), 1–8.

  60. Sharp, J. E., Niemiec, R. M., & Lawrence, C. (2017). Using mindfulness-based strengths practices with gifted populations. Gifted Education International, 33(2), 131–144.

  61. Shonin, E., & Van Gordon, W. (2015). Managers’ experiences of meditation awareness training. Mindfulness, 6(4), 899–909.

  62. Siegel, R. (2010). La solución mindfulness. Prácticas cotidianas para problemas cotidianos. Bilbao: Dewcleè de Brouner.

  63. Silverman, L. K. (1994). The moral sensitivity of gifted children and the evolution of society. Roeper Review, 17(2), 110–116.

  64. Silverman, L. K. (2005). Intesitive! Intensities and sensitivities of the gifted. Brisbane: Queensland Association for Giftedness and Talented.

  65. Sisk, D. (2008). Engaging the spiritual intelligence of gifted students to build global awareness in the classroom. Roeper Review, 30(1), 24–30.

  66. Spielberger, C., Goursch, R., & Lushene, R. (1982). Cuestionario de Ansiedad Estado—Rasgo, STAI. [Questionnaire State—Trait Anxiety]. Madrid: TEA Ediciones.

  67. Sternberg, R. J. (2004). Introduction to definitions and conceptions of giftedness. Gifted Child Quarterly, 4–7.

  68. Sternberg, R. J., & Davidson, J. (1986). Conceptions of giftedness. New York City: Cambridge University Press.

  69. Takšić, V. (2001). Upitnici emocionalne kompetentnosti (inteligencije). [Emotional competence (intelligence) questionnaires]. In K. Lacković-Grgin & Z. Penezić (Eds.), Zbirka psihologijskih mjernih instrumenata. [The collection of psychological instruments]. Zadar, Croatia: Faculty of Philosophy.

  70. Thera, N. (2014). The heart of Buddhist meditation: the Buddha’s way of mindfulness. New York City, NY: Weiser Books.

  71. Thompson, B. (2001). Significance, effect sizes, stepwise methods, and other issues: strong arguments move the field. The Journal of Experimental Education, 70, 80–93.

  72. Thompson, L. A., & Oehlert, J. (2010). The etiology of giftedness. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(4), 298–307.

  73. Tieso, C. L. (2007). Patterns of overexcitabilities in identified gifted students and their parents: a hierarchical model. Gifted Child Quarterly, 51(1), 11–22.

  74. Tomlinson, E. R., Yousaf, O., Vittersø, A. D., & Jones, L. (2018). Dispositional mindfulness and psychological health: a systematic review. Mindfulness, 9(1), 11–22.

  75. Turanzas, J. (2013, December). Adaptación Transcultural de la Escala CAMM (Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure) y estudio preliminar de sus características psicométricas. VIU Valencian International University, Valencia. Retrieved from

  76. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., & Griffiths, M. (2015). Towards a second generation of mindfulness-based interventions. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49(7), 591–592.

  77. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., & Griffiths, M. D. (2016). Meditation awareness training for individuals with fibromyalgia syndrome: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of participants’ experiences. Mindfulness, 7(2), 409–419.

  78. Walsh, R. L., Hodge, K. A., Bowes, J. M., & Kemp, C. R. (2010). Same age, different page: overcoming the barriers to catering for young gifted children in prior-to-school settings. International Journal of Early Childhood, 42(1), 43–58.

  79. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 1063–1070

  80. Webb, J. T., Gore, J. L., Amend, E. R., & DeVries, A. R. (2007). A parent’s guide to gifted children. Tucson, AZ: Great Potential Press.

  81. Young, S. N. (2011). Biologic effects of mindfulness meditation: growing insights into neurobiologic aspects of the prevention of depression. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, 36(2), 75–77.

  82. Zahn-Waxler, C., Klimes-Dougan, B., & Slattery, M. J. (2000). Internalizing problems of childhood and adolescence: prospects, pitfalls, and progress in understanding the development of anxiety and depression. Development and Psychopathology, 12(3), 443–466.

  83. Zenner, C., Herrnleben-Kurz, S., & Walach, H. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions in schools-a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(JUN), 1–20.

  84. Zhang, D., Chan, S. K. C., Lo, H. H. M., Chan, C. Y. H., Chan, J. C. Y., Ting, K. T., et al. (2017). Mindfulness-based intervention for Chinese children with ADHD and their parents: a pilot mixed-method study. Mindfulness, 8(4), 859–872.

Download references

Author information

JT: designed and executed the study, assisted with description of the program and references. JRC: analyzed the data and wrote part of the results (including the figures). JC and JMM: collaborated with the design, data analysis and writing of the study; JMM contributed to design the APAC program (emotional intelligence and emotional regulation strategies).

Correspondence to José M. Mestre.

Ethics declarations

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards). This research was approved by the UCA’s Institutional Review Board (Universidad de Cádiz, Spain).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

This research had a parental consent document, which explained them the nature of the research project, what risks, benefits, and alternatives are associated with the research, as well as what rights their child has as a research subject. Participants of this research were voluntaries under a signed-parental consent document.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Turanzas, J.A., Cordón, J.R., Choca, J.P. et al. Evaluating the APAC (Mindfulness for Giftedness) Program in a Spanish Sample of Gifted Children: a Pilot Study. Mindfulness 11, 86–98 (2020).

Download citation


  • Gifted children
  • Mindfulness
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Emotional regulation
  • Second-generation mindfulness-based interventions