Over 30 years of research has shown that mindfulness promotes psychological flexibility and physical and mental health. Specifically, mindfulness practice strengthens the neural pathways that create changes in the brain, laying the foundation for new patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. This helps people impacted by trauma and complex life challenges and those who care for them by:
- Increasing awareness, improving the ability to make clear decisions
- Improving compassion, strengthening kindness and empathy
- Learning practical strategies to use in everyday situations, reducing stress
In 2011, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing completed two studies on the impact of ElderSHINESM on low-income elders. The results were published in the Journal of Urban Health and Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine.
Published findings indicated that compared to the social support control group, the ELDERSHINE group demonstrated statistically significant decreases in blood pressure.
Unpublished ElderSHINE findings included improvements in:
- Overall health
- Social support
- Diurnal salivary cortisol levels
- Heart rate
PACT Therapeutic Nursery
The work began when Kim Cosgrove, Director of Kennedy Krieger’s Pact Therapeutic Nursery who has over 30 years of social work experience, attended one of Amy’s professional development workshops in 2009. She said, “I knew I had to share this with my staff. We’ve been working together ever since.”
PACT, an adjunct of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, was the CMA’s first pilot organization to fully integrate mindful awareness practices with its staff and clients in all of its programs.
After bringing SHINE℠ to the nursery, Kim said, “SHINE has supported the Nursery in ways that I could never have imagined.”
Two articles describe the power of SHINE’s work at the nursery:
2011 “Mindful Awareness Play” Play Therapy Magazine
To assess the impact of the CMA’s work on staff at PACT, we partnered with Dr. Jesse Fox, Ph.D., from Stetson University to gather information from staff members on SHINE’s ability to increase self-awareness, promote self-regulation, build resilience and reduce stress.
We looked at our impact on four of PACT’S programs, including the Therapeutic Nursery; the World of Care child care for medically fragile children; the Growing Together program for parents with intellectual disabilities; as well as Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Child and Family Support Program, a center and home-based early intervention therapy program.
PACT StaffSHINE Evaluation Results
We can report compelling data about the effectiveness and benefit of the StaffSHINE training, especially over time. In evaluating a SHINE program with staff members at PACT, we used validated tools at four different time points: before the training, immediately after the training, six months and one year after the training.
Measures utilized in this project include:
- The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS)
- The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-4)
- The Self-Compassion Scale (SCS)
- Qualitative information was also collected throughout
Our statistical evaluation directly links the positive outcomes below to the effectiveness of StaffSHINE training:
- The staff report having more confidence in themselves and in their job roles.
- The staff recognize a greater ability to focus and manage stress on the job.
- The staff use mindfulness to manage conflict, and also integrate mindfulness practices into skill lessons with parents, caregivers, and children.
- As a result of the integration of mindfulness practices into the organizational culture at PACT, the staff experience a greater sense of support in the workplace and report renewed commitment to client-centered social work practices.
Dr. Fox is continuing to gather data on the impact of SHINE programs across the community, and working towards validating the assessment we use to measure participant progress.
Although data is extremely important in illustrating the benefits of the CMA’s programs, we are most proud of the fact that SHINE program participants tell us each week the ways in which SHINE has a huge influence on their daily lives.
A senior social worker with over thirty years of experience:
“I have no doubt that your mindfulness program, in combination with our attachment work, is the most effective tool I have known to help parents regulate in the 38 years I have been working in mental health.”
A childcare teacher with ten years of experience:
“This program is ideal for anyone, no matter your social/economic status. However, underserved populations may never have this opportunity if it was not for SHINE.”
A young father (with a history of incarceration, domestic violence and drug use), shared these comments in a SHINE group:
“It’s like I’ve been on a merry-go-round. I’ve always acted on my emotions, and kept making the same mistakes and getting the same bad consequences. These keys are ways to not make the same mistakes. They change the course of my action. I can do things in a different way, and now there’s a good consequence.”
A young mother, with a history of substance abuse and homelessness:
“Last night, when my baby was screaming and yelling in his crib, I was going to go in there and pop him. Then I remembered one of the keys to mindfulness (STOP), and stopped, took a breath, saw how tense and angry I was inside, looked at my baby and thought – maybe he needed something from me. So I asked for help. I didn’t hit my baby, and they didn’t have to call Child Protective Services.”
A woman living in transitional housing:
“This program has meant a lot to me. It’s better than anger management. I moved from “F*** you“ to “let it slide.”
Low-income seniors living in subsidized housing:
“By sitting quietly we learn to slow down – we learn about peace.”
“I learned about meditating and letting your mind be free; letting the quietness come in.”