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A growing body of evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation is associated with a number of physiological and psychological benefits in both adult and juvenile populations. Research on mindfulness-based interventions among at-risk and incarcerated youth populations has also shown feasibility as a means of enhancing self-regulation and well-being. This randomized controlled trial examined an 8- to 12-week program in which participants received individual and group psychotherapy. Participants in the experimental condition received formal mindfulness training alongside psychotherapy, while those in the control condition received psychotherapy without mindfulness training. All participants received the group intervention. Participants were recruited from a court-mandated substance abuse group treatment program at a juvenile detention camp in the San Francisco Bay Area. Participants were 35 incarcerated youth (100 % male; 70 % Hispanic; mean age = 16.45). Of these, 27 provided complete pre- and post-treatment assessment data. Measures of mindfulness, locus of control, decision-making, self-esteem, and attitude toward drugs were administered before and after the intervention. Detention camp staff provided behavioral rating points for each participant in the week prior to beginning the study treatment and in the week after completing the intervention. Significant increases in self-esteem (p < 0.05) and decision-making skills (p < 0.01) were observed among the entire study sample. Between-group analyses found significantly greater increases in self-esteem (p < 0.05) and staff ratings of good behavior (p < 0.05) in the mindfulness treatment group, consistent with prior research. These results suggest a potentially important role for mindfulness-based interventions in improving well-being and decreasing recidivism among this at-risk population.

The current study investigated the effects of an 8-week mindfulness-based substance use intervention on self-reported impulsiveness, perceived drug risk, and healthy self-regulation in a sample of 60 incarcerated youth. Forty-eight participants completed questionnaires pre and post intervention. Additionally, 16 participants from two of the final 8-week cohorts were interviewed in focus groups about their experience of the program immediately following its completion. A mixed-method embedded model was used, in which qualitative data was used in support of quantitative data. Paired t-tests revealed a significant decrease (p < .01) in impulsiveness and a significant increase (p < .05) in perceived risk of drug use from pretest to posttest. No significant differences were found on self-reported self-regulation. Focus group interviews conducted immediately following the intervention revealed three major themes: receptivity to the program in general, appreciation of the facilitator teaching style, and learning about drugs. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.

The current study investigated the feasibility of implementing a 10-week mindfulness-based intervention with a group of incarcerated adolescents. Before and after completion of the 10-week intervention, 32 participants filled out self-report questionnaires on trait mindfulness, self-regulation, and perceived stress. We hypothesized that self-reported mindfulness and self-regulation would significantly increase, and perceived stress would significantly decrease, as a result of participation in the treatment intervention. Paired t-tests revealed a significant decrease (p < .05) in perceived stress and a significant increase (p < .001) in healthy self-regulation. No significant differences were found on self-reported mindfulness. Results suggest that mindfulness-based interventions are feasible for incarcerated adolescents. Limitations and future research are discussed.