The goal of MBA’s research is to investigate and disseminate the impact of mindfulness-based interventions with high-risk and incarcerated populations. Through both process-based and translational research, MBA’s intention is to continually contribute to the growing research of evidence-based interventions involving mindfulness and other contemplative approaches with the people we serve.

Research Philosophy

Research conducted at MBA utilizes a mixed method, transformative-based paradigm. That is, MBA recognizes the value of sound empirical, quantitative research methods, but also uses qualitative methods to highlight the perspectives, opinions, and experiences of the research participants themselves. MBA strives to conduct culturally sensitive and competent research ultimately to serve the youth we work with. It is our intention that our research is continually built upon and used as a base to grow to this early-stage, but important field.

For more information on the specific Psychometric measures used by the MBA Project to evaluate subjective effective and impacts of our programs, see the Psychometric Measures page.

Our Research

MBA continually researches the MBA Curriculum, alongside other research questions that will contribute to the growing research field of mindfulness and high-risk youth. Refer to the titles, authors, and abstracts (summaries) of current and past MBA research.

Published Research

Title: “Innovations in Practice: Exploring an Intensive Meditation Intervention for Incarcerated Youth.”

Journal: Child and Adolescent Mental Health; in-press.

Authors: Barnert, L., Himelstein, S., Herbert, S., Garcia-Romeu, A., & Chamberlain, L.

Background: We examined the experiences of incarcerated adolescent males (N = 29) who participated in a one-day meditation retreat and 10-week meditation program. Method: Self-report surveys assessing mindfulness, self-regulation, impulsivity, and stress; behavioural assessments; and focus group data were examined. Results: We observed significantly higher scores in self-regulation (p = .012) and psychometric markers demonstrated psychological enhancement. No behavioural change was observed. Six themes emerged: enhanced well-being, increased self-discipline, increased social cohesiveness, expanded self-awareness, resistance to meditation, and future meditation practice. Conclusions: Early evidence suggests that meditation training for incarcerated youth is a feasible and promising intervention.


Title: “Mindfulness Training for Self-Regulation and Stress with Incarcerated Youth: A Pilot Study.”

Journal: Probation Journal; 2012.

Authors: Himelstein, S., Hastings, A., Shapiro, S., & Heery, M.=

The current study investigated the feasibility of implementing a 10-week mindfulness- based intervention with a group of incarcerated adolescents. Before and after completion of the 10-week intervention, 32 participants filled out self-report questionnaires on trait mindfulness, self-regulation, and perceived stress. We hypothesized that self- reported mindfulness and self-regulation would significantly increase, and perceived stress would significantly decrease, as a result of participation in the treatment intervention. Paired t-tests revealed a significant decrease (p < .05) in perceived stress and a significant increase (p < .001) in healthy self-regulation. No significant differences were found on self-reported mindfulness. Results suggest that mindfulness-based interventions are feasible for incarcerated adolescents. Limitations and future research are discussed. Click here for a link to this article.


Title: “A Qualitative Investigation of the Experience of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention with Incarcerated Adolescents.”

Journal: Child and Adolescent Mental Health; 2012.

Authors: Himelstein, S., Hastings, A., Shapiro, S., & Heery, M.

Background: This study investigated the experience of 23 incarcerated male adolescents who participated in an adapted 10-week mindfulness-based intervention. Method: Participants completed semi-structured interviews immediately following the final class of the treatment intervention. A six-step thematic content analysis was used to identify major themes from the transcribed semi-structured interviews. Results: Four major clusters of themes were identified: increase in subjective well-being, increase in self-regulation, increase in awareness, and accepting attitude toward the treatment intervention. Conclusion: Results suggest that adapted mindfulness-based interventions are feasible as treatments for incarcerated youth and have promising potential. Clinical implications are discussed. Click here for a link to this article.


Title: “Mindfulness Based Substance Abuse Treatment for Incarcerated Youth: A Mixed Method Pilot Study.”

Journal: International Journal of Transpersonal Studies; 2011.

Author: Himelstein, S.

The current study investigated the effect of an 8-week mindfulness-based substance use intervention on self-reported impulsiveness, perceived drug risk, and healthy self-regulation in a sample of 60 incarcerated youth. Forty-eight participants completed questionnaires pre and post intervention. Additionally, 16 participants from two of the final 8-week cohorts were interviewed in focus groups about their experience of the program immediately following its completion. A mixed-method embedded model was used, in which qualitative data was used in support of quantitative data. Paired t-tests revealed a significant decrease (p < .01) in impulsiveness and a significant increase (p < .05) in perceived risk of drug use from pretest to posttest. No significant differences were found on self- reported self-regulation. Focus group interviews conducted immediately following the intervention revealed three major themes: receptivity to the program in general, appreciation of the facilitator teaching style, and learning about drugs. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed. Click here for a link to this article.