The impact of mindfulness skills on interactions between direct care staff and adults with developmental disabilities

Volume 12, April 2019, Pages 160-169. (Special Issue on ACT for Autism and Related Disorders)


Christina Chancey, Cynthia Weihl, William B. Root, Ruth Anne Rehfeldt, Donnell McCauley, Kazu Takeguchi, and Josh Pritchard


Interacting positively with clients with severe disabilities who exhibit challenging behaviors can be difficult for human service agency staff. Research findings have demonstrated the importance of caregiver interactions on quality of life outcomes for both clients and caregiver, thus underscoring the importance of strategies for enhancing positive interactions. One intervention that has been explored is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and the establishment of mindfulness as a behavioral repertoire. While much research on mindfulness has directly evaluated changes in client behavior, there is little research specifically on the effectiveness of mindfulness as a behavioral repertoire on caregiver interactions. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of ACT, specifically the use of mindfulness techniques, on improving caregiver interactions towards adult clients with developmental disabilities. Results of this study suggest that mindfulness techniques are effective at improving caregiver interactions towards clients, as indicated by an increased number of caregiver interactions following mindfulness training and during follow-up maintenance probes. Results are discussed in terms of the practical significance of mindfulness as a component of staff training protocols.

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