A report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Clinical Psychology at the University of Technology Sydney, October 2016.
Principle Supervisor: Alice Shires (1, 2)
Co-Supervisor: Bruno Cayoun (2)
1 Graduate School of Health, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW Australia
2 MiCBT Institute, 277 Macquarie Street, Hobart, TAS, Australia
Anxiety is a common, normative experience for both children and adults. However, elevated anxiety in childhood is predictive of adult anxiety disorders, which can have a considerable impact at both the individual and societal level. There is substantial evidence that mindfulness interventions can alleviate adult anxiety, however less is known about mindfulness effects with children. Furthermore, many existing mindfulness interventions neglect the family system, despite its central role in children’s development and wellbeing. This study therefore investigated the effects of a parent-child mindfulness meditation program on child anxiety, with additional investigations into parental anxiety. An A-B-A multiple baseline case series design was used to achieve this aim. Three mother-child dyads participated in the study, and all children initially met DSMIV criteria for two or more anxiety disorders. Two of the three dyads completed the 8-week program, which was based on Mindfulness integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (MiCBT). The program provided training in mindfulness of breath and body sensations, and required children to undertake daily mindfulness practice. Results showed that the two retained children no longer met criteria for any anxiety disorder at post-treatment and follow-up. Both children experienced clinically significant and/or reliable reductions in anxiety symptoms and life interference, however only one child achieved improvements in self-reported mindfulness. One mother experienced a reliable reduction in anxiety symptoms, however neither mother demonstrated improvements in self-reported mindfulness. These findings provide some support for mindfulness as a means of alleviating child and maternal anxiety, and have implications for interventions, theory, and future research.