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Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy as a Targeted Group Intervention: Examining Children’s Changes in Anxiety Symptoms and Mindfulness

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Abstract

We implemented mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) with 9–12 aged children as a tier-2, targeted group anxiety intervention. We employed an RCT with small sample size. Intervention participants (n = 12) and waitlist controls (n = 13) were matched by parent-reported anxiety severity and sex. The intervention group completed a 12-week manualized MBCT program, and self-and parent-reports of children’s anxiety symptoms were collected at baseline screening, post-MBCT, and a one-month follow-up. Intervention participants also reported their mindfulness at pre-, mid-, and post-MBCT and a one-month follow-up. Intervention parents reported significant decreases in the severity of their children’s anxiety symptoms from baseline screening to post-MBCT, and this effect was maintained after one month. Control parents reported no significant change in their children’s anxiety symptom severity while waiting to receive MBCT. Most intervention participants who reported anxiety symptoms in the clinically significant range at baseline screening perceived significant decreases at post-MBCT. Reductions in self-reported anxiety symptoms from baseline screening to post-MBCT also significantly correlated with increases in their mindfulness from pre- to mid-MBCT. Control participants reporting clinically significant anxiety symptoms at baseline screening perceived no changes in their anxiety severity at the end of the waiting period. The generalizability and applicability of the current findings are limited due to the RCT’s small sample size. Further implications of these findings, along with limitations and future directions for research, are discussed.

Highlights

  • An RCT with a small sample size examined the efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to reduce childhood anxiety symptom.

  • MBCT was found to be more efficacious than no tier-2 intervention at all.

  • Mindfulness growth at mid-MBCT correlated with anxiety declines from pre- to post-MCBT.

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Correspondence to Maisha M. Syeda.

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Syeda, M.M., Andrews, J.J.W. Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy as a Targeted Group Intervention: Examining Children’s Changes in Anxiety Symptoms and Mindfulness. J Child Fam Stud 30, 1002–1015 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-01924-4

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