The YES! program is currently undergoing rigorous study at UCLA.
Complete & Ongoing Research:
From “Effects of the Youth Empowerment Seminar on Impulsive Behavior in Adolescents”3 – Dara G. Ghahremani, Ph.D., Eugene Y. Oh, B.S., Andrew C. Dean, Ph.D., Kristina Mouzakis, B.A., Kristen D. Wilson, R.N., B.S.N., and Edythe D. London, Ph.D. – Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA
YES! Increases Empathy
From: “Effects of a social-emotional life-skills workshop that includes controlled breathing on emotional empathy in adolescents,” Dara G. Ghahremani, Ph.D., Eugene Y. Oh, B.S., Sonal Rana, M.D., Pramila Agrawal, MD, and Andrew C. Dean, Ph.D. – Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, Pomona, CA, Brain Research Institute, UCLA
YES! increases Self-Motivation, Self-Efficacy, Self-Control and Learning
From: “Effects of YES! (Youth Empowerment Seminar) on educational attitudes and learning strategies in high school students” – Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA Ongoing studies are also showing YES! increases Executive Functions such as Attentional Focus, and reduces fear and anxiety.
Graduate research at UCLA is finding substantial improvements in students’ ability to emotionally regulate, self-awareness, empathy and compassion, as well as changes in their interpersonal relationships, and embodied student agency.
The Upward Spiral of Positive Emotions, Social Connections and Health
People who experience warmer, more upbeat emotions may have better physical health because they make more social connections, according to a new study published in Psychological Science.
To study the bodily effects of up-regulating positive emotions, the researchers zeroed in on vagal tone, an indicator of how a person’s vagus nerve is functioning. The vagus nerve helps regulate heart rate and is also a central component of a person’s social-engagement system. (YES! for Schools’ breathing techniques are designed to target the vagus nerve.)
According to the UNC Chapel Hill study, people who have a higher vagal tone tend to be better at regulating their emotions. Participants who entered the study with higher vagal tone showed steeper increases in positive emotions over the course of the study. As participants’ positive emotions increased, so did their reported social connections. As social connections increased, so did vagal tone. In contrast, participants in the wait-list group showed virtually no change in vagal tone over the course of the study.
The study concluded that positive emotions may be an essential psychological nutrient that builds health, just like getting enough exercise and eating leafy greens.
From an educational perspective, this is great news. We all want our students (and ourselves!) to self-
regulate, enjoy positive emotions, feel connected, and have healthy hearts!
Effects of the Youth Empowerment Seminar on Impulsive Behavior in Adolescents
Dara G. Ghahremani, Ph.D., Eugene Y. Oh, B.S., Andrew C. Dean, Ph.D., Kristina Mouzakis, B.A., Kristen D. Wilson, R.N., B.S.N., and Edythe D. London, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
University of California, Los Angeles
Purpose: As impulsivity during adolescence predicts health-risk behaviors and associated harm, interventions that attenuate impulsivity may offer protection. We evaluated effects of the Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!), a biopsychosocial workshop for adolescents that teaches skills of stress management, emotion-regulation, conflict-resolution, and attentional focus, on impulsive behavior.
Methods: High-school students (14-18 years old) in the United States participated in YES! during their physical education classes. Students in a control group attended their usual curriculum and were tested in parallel. Items from the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (framed to reflect recent behavior) were used to assess the studentsʼ behavior before and after they underwent the program.
Results and Conclusions: Compared with the control group, YES! participants reported less impulsive behavior after the program. The results suggest that YES! can promote mental health in adolescents, potentially protecting them from harmful coping behaviors.
Implications and Contribution: The study indicates that adolescents undergoing the YES! program show reduced impulsive behavior. Given the link between impulsivity and harmful coping behavior, the program may be protective against risk behavior detrimental to adolescent health.