Emerging research suggests that mindfulness is feasible and acceptable for youth and may also be beneficial to them (Burke 2010). Qualitative, quantitative and randomized clinical trial studies show that teens accept mindfulness-based programs and do not experience any adverse effects from them. Studies also show that mindfulness approaches are producing benefits in teens in the form of more feelings of well-being, less anxiety and worry, and less emotional reactivity (Burke 2010).

From 2005 to 2006, Biegel et al. conducted a randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of an Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program adapted for teens aged 14–18 who were receiving treatment in an outpatient psychiatry facility. The study included 102 individuals randomized into either a treatment-as-usual [TAU] group or a group receiving TAU plus participation in an MBSR program adapted for teens. TAU consisted of either individual or group therapy and/or drug therapy.

Clinicians took pretest, post-test and 3-month follow-up measures of participants’ mental health. Methods included a psychiatric diagnosis and assessments of levels of general psychological and social functioning. Clinicians who made these measures were blinded to the subjects’ group status. At post-test and follow-up, subjects were scored on the basis of whether there was no change in their diagnosis, an improvement or a lack of improvement.

The findings, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, showed that participants in the MBSR group had a higher percentage of diagnostic improvement than those in the TAU group. MBSR group members also showed reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression and somatic distress and increased self-esteem and sleep quality compared with the TAU group. Investigators recommended that more methodologically rigorous, large-scale clinical trials be conducted.