There is nothing new about mindfulness training.
But a ‘’first of its kind study’’ at the University of Wollongong is investigating the effects of a brief app-based mindfulness program in individuals who have experienced childhood trauma.
Associate Professor Stuart Johnstone from UOW’s School of Psychology said there was nothing overly innovative about mindfulness training but doing it on a trauma population was quite new.
‘’Doing it on a computer is also quite new and using these devices [EEG headsets] here is also quite new. This is the only study in the world to do this,’’ Prof Johnstone said.
‘’We have used these devices on kids with ADHD for years and they love it because it is sending their brain activity to the computer.
‘’But in this trauma population, adults who have experienced something when they were younger, we don’t really know [how they will respond].
‘’That’s another part of the study. Will people actually put this on their head and sit at home and do it. We hope and expect they will.’’
Project leaders Breanna Shuttlewood and Jessica Buster said the computer-based therapy was ‘’non-invasive and could be completed in the comfort of the participant’s own home’’.
The provisional psychologists and UOW clinical psychology Masters students said while previous research has measured EEG (electroencephalogram) before and after mindfulness exercises, a novel aspect of the present study was that EEG will also be measured while participants are doing the mindfulness exercises.
Miss Buster added people who have experienced childhood trauma can have ongoing troubles such as difficultly regulating their emotions, interpersonal and self-concept disturbances, difficulty focusing and distractibility.
‘’Mindfulness is about bringing attention to experiences occurring in the present moment in a non-judgemental or accepting way, rather than remaining stuck in reliving past experiences,’’ she said.
Miss Shuttlewood said mindfulness has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms associated with a number of different problems such as anxiety and depression.
‘’We expect that participants will benefit by gaining mindfulness skills, specifically, accessing the present moment and being able to notice and acknowledge their internal experience with acceptance,’’ she said.
‘’These abilities are important for the early stages of trauma recovery and can help with better regulation of unpleasant emotions and thoughts. Furthermore, this program may be a good foundation for further counselling.’’
Visit https://tinyurl.com/uowmfstudy for more information or to participate in the study.