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Title: Youths aging out of foster care and their experiences learning mindfulness in an arts-based group program.
Authors: Lougheed, Sean C.H.
Keywords: Arts-based;Care leavers;Fun;Holistic;Marginalized;Mindfulness;Mutual aid;Youth in care;Foster care;Resilience;Social support;Thematic analysis;Aging out of care;Group work
Issue Date: 20-Jan-2016
Abstract: As the field of research investigating mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) continues to expand, studies implementing MBIs with older marginalized youth are scarce. I developed and explored the implementation of an innovative MBI with a small group of youth transitioning out of foster care due to their age. In general, these youth remain underrepresented in qualitative research processes, furthering their public “invisibility” and hampering our understanding of their long-term health and education outcomes. Since we know that many youth in care suffer a variety of long term negative consequences due to experiences of trauma, loss, and family dysfunction, and because we lack understanding regarding beneficial programs for these youth, research is necessary to support policies and programs that promote the resilience of youth in care. I was interested in better understanding these youths’ viewpoints about resilience, and their understanding of mindfulness. The lack of research exploring MBIs with youth aging out of foster care necessitated an exploratory approach. Applying qualitative inquiry and a constructivist lens, I collected data from eight participants who participated in two different groups. I interviewed the youths using open-ended questions in three semi-structured interviews prior to, immediately after, and four months following participation in a holistic 10-week arts-based mindfulness group program. A follow-up meeting was held with all of the youth one year after the groups were completed. Using an inductive form of interpretive thematic analysis, my analysis of the data yielded themes illustrating the participants’ perceptions of the challenges that they endured; the key features of resilience; their understanding of mindfulness; the benefits of learning mindfulness; and the perceived helpfulness of the group experience. These findings helped me to illustrate new insights about the benefits, challenges, and opportunities afforded by implementing MBIs with older youth in care. I found that the arts-based mindfulness group program was suitable and the youth expressed several benefits of learning mindfulness for their day-to-day lives including increased self-awareness and improved emotion regulation. The implications for service providers and other allies of marginalized youth are considered, and recommendations for future researchers are provided.
Appears in Collections:Doctoral Theses
Rural and Northern Health - Doctoral theses

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