The Gaia program is a 12-week mindfulness intervention based on cultivating body, emotional, and ecological self-awareness, which has been shown so far to be effective in reducing children’s internalizing and externalizing problems at school. This paper presents the results of a CRCT aimed at investigating the effectiveness of this program on improving internalizing, externalizing, and total problems in a different population group (i.e., high-school adolescents).
The study compared outcomes for adolescents assigned to the experimental group, who received the intervention delivered by instructors within the school curriculum, with those of the control group using a multilevel regression model. Emotional/behavioral problems were assessed with the Achenbach Youth Self-Report. Two hundred thirty-four participants (mean age 14 years) were recruited from seven schools.
The experimental group showed a significant decrease in internalizing and total problems scales, as well as a stable pattern of externalizing problems over time, whereas the control group showed an increasing trend in internalizing, externalizing, and total problems. Moreover, the treatment group showed a decreasing trend in social and thought problems as compared to that in the control group. Finally, adolescents in the control group who scored below the clinical cut-off score at pre-test, at the end of the study scored above the clinical cut-off score in total and externalizing problems.
Findings from this study provide evidence that the Gaia program for adolescents may significantly decrease internalizing problems and maintain similar levels of externalizing problems from pre-test to post-test that, conversely, increase in the control group.