|Negi with HH Dalai Lama|
CBCT is a tool that provides strategies for people to develop more compassionate attitudes toward themselves and others.
It is well documented that children in foster care have a high prevalence of trauma in their lives.
For many, the circumstances that bring them into the foster care system are formidable; sexual abuse, parental neglect, family violence, homelessness, and exposure to drugs.
In addition, they are separated from biological family and some are regularly moved around from one place to another.
Emory researchers conducted the study in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Division of Family and Child Services (DFCS).
The study was recently published online in the journals Psychoneuroendocrinology and Child and Family Studies.
“Inflammation is known to play a fundamental role in the development of a number of chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer and depression.”
The study finds that adolescents who practiced CBCT showed reductions in the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP), reduced anxiety and increased feelings of hopefulness. The more the study participants practiced, the greater the improvement observed in these measures.
“We are even more encouraged by the finding that CBCT reduced levels of inflammation. Our hope is that CBCT may help contribute to the long-term health and well being of foster care children, not only during childhood, but also as they move into their adult years.”
Additionally, an article recently published in the journal Pediatrics reported that a high proportion of children in foster care programs across the United States are on psychiatric medications, many inappropriately e.g. AntiPsychotic Treatment
CBCT is a multi-week program developed by the Psychology dept. at Emory University by Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, one of the study’s co-authors. Although derived from Tibetan Buddhist teachings on compassion, the CBCT program has been designed to be completely secular in nature.
All of the children lived in the greater metropolitan Atlanta area, and were in state custody (i.e. foster care) at the time of the study.
The participants were randomised to six weeks of Cognitvely-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), or to a wait list control group. Before and after these interventions the adolescents were assessed on various measures of anxiety and hope about the future. They also provided saliva samples for the measurement of C-reactive protein.
The researchers found that within the CBCT group, participation in practice sessions during the study correlated with reduced CRP from baseline to the six-week assessment.
The researchers are careful to emphasize that further studies will be needed to determine if there are long-term benefits with CBCT.