An exploratory study of mindfulness meditation as a healing tool with abused adolescents at the Durban Child Care Centre
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Mindfulness meditation has been receiving attention as a potential therapeutic tool to help those who have been traumatized or who are distressed. Anecdotal evidence reflects its potential healing abilities across varied populations with different problems. Despite this there has been very little attention to spirituality and more so mindfulness meditation in South African within the context of SA research and the literature. More importantly research within the field of child and youth care is sparse. This prompted the need for the current study which explored the nature and impact of abuse on the adolescents in the sample, the support provided at child care institutions, and the spiritual activities used by adolescents. More importantly however the study’s aim was to explore the benefits of a mindfulness meditation programme with a group of abused adolescents. In order to achieve this, a qualitative research design was used. Data was collected using in-depth interviews and a focus group discussion following the implementation of the mindfulness meditation workshop. Reflections written by the adolescent after each session was also analysed with the data from the focus group discussion. A purposive sample of eight adolescents was used. These adolescents were at a child care facility in the Ethekwini region of Kwa-Zulu Natal. They were purposively selected by the Director of the facility to participate due to their experience of abuse. Deeply traumatized adolescents who still needed one to one support were not considered. The data collected was recorded and then transcribed. After it was transcribed a process of thematic analysis was used. Main themes and sub-themes were derived from the data in its totality. The main themes drawn from the study was the types of abuse; the psycho-social effects of abuse, support received at the child care facility, spiritual interventions used by the adolescents, increased group bonding, benefits of meditation; mindfulness meditation as an ongoing practice. This study unearthed rich information pertaining to the traumatic experience of abuse. Rich descriptive reflected anxiety, depression, poor social relationships and poor academic performance as some of the effects of the experience. The study further found that institutionalization provided a safe space and both the adolescents and child care workers had used spiritual activities to enable healing. Of most importance however that is the meditation sessions demonstrated multiple positive benefits. These included feeling a sense of peace and equanimity, improved self-confidence, re-ordering of negative and dysfunctional thoughts into more positive ones, enhanced emotional states and forgiveness. The entire sample indicated that they would use this intervention, in the future again and felt that it was beneficial to other adolescents. Based on this it was recommended that child and youth care education give consideration to the inclusion of spirituality, moreover mindfulness meditation in child and youth care work.