Modifying the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Mindfulness Curriculum Implemented with Transition-Age Youth and Young Adults in Foster Care

Modifying the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Mindfulness Curriculum Implemented with Transition-Age Youth and Young Adults in Foster Care

Published: Feb 08, 2024
Publisher: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
Associated Project

Building Program Capacity to Support Youth at Risk of Homelessness (YARH): Phases I-III

Time frame: Phase I: 2013-2015 Phase II: 2015-2019 Phase III: 2019-2022

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation


Molly Van Drunen

Amy Dworsky

LaShaun Brooks

Key Findings
  • Youth Transitions Partnership (YTP) changed the cadence, framing, and structure of its mindfulness curriculum to introduce key concepts earlier, provide more time for discussing and applying concepts, and follow an activity-based format.
  • Youth and young adults thought that the modified mindfulness curriculum was more interactive than the original and that it gave them more chances to reflect on their feelings.
  • Youth and young adults thought additional engagement and small-group activities would create more opportunity for them to apply and retain the information taught through the mindfulness curriculum.
  • YTP coaches thought youth and young adults engaged more in the modified curriculum.

The Youth Transitions Partnership (YTP) in Alameda County, California is a comprehensive service model designed to support transition-age youth and young adults in foster care. YTP combines service coordination, intensive case management, and individualized supports such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to increase young people’s engagement with available support systems and improve their outcomes.

Youth and young adults enrolled in YTP participate in group-based DBT skill development sessions to learn and practice skills that can help them address trauma symptoms that may otherwise impede their ability to engage in services or develop lasting connections. Participants complete three eight-week modules focused on a different DBT skill; each module begins with a two-week mindfulness curriculum. The YTP team—Alameda County Social Services Agency, YTP program staff, and the evaluation team at Chapin Hall—decided to modify this DBT mindfulness curriculum to try to increase early engagement and encourage retention among program youth and young adults.

This brief describes the YTP team’s process of modifying the DBT mindfulness curriculum for YTP, including the motivation for this modification and key learnings to date. It also includes recommendations for continuing to test and refine YTP’s mindfulness curriculum within the context of ongoing continuous quality improvement efforts.

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