Comparing universal and targeted delivery of a mindfulness-based program for anxiety in children

Victoria Etherington, Shane Costello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Schools are increasingly being identified as ideal settings for early intervention for anxiety and other mental health challenges; however, questions remain about whether individuals who require the most assistance will receive it in more universally applied intervention programs. This study compared targeted and universal delivery approaches of a social and emotional learning intervention for anxiety, using a mixed-methods approach. 66 upper primary aged children (50.9% male) completed a brief mindfulness-based group program, with 46 students in the universal group. The remaining participants (n = 20) were part of the targeted group, selected because they were deemed 'at risk' of social and emotional maladjustment. Significant improvements in mean anxiety scores were found for the targeted group and a subset of the universal group, who reported elevated anxiety pre-program, but not for the universal group as a whole. Thematic analysis of semistructured interviews indicated positive experiences from both methods of delivery. These results indicate that a universal delivery is appropriate for social and emotional learning programs, providing opportunities for the greatest number of students, while also supporting those students who were experiencing more significant levels of anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-38
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • anxiety
  • mindfulness
  • social and emotional learning
  • targeted
  • universal

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