top of page

Behavioral Research


Since Shanthi Project was founded in 2010, we have worked with thousands of at-risk youth and trauma survivors. We provide evidence-based mindfulness programs to more than 4,000 children and adults annually across the Greater Lehigh Valley. These services have grown every year alongside our commitment to outcome research.

Children and adolescents are experiencing stress at unprecedented levels. Increasing stress may result in:

​Research suggests that anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem can negatively influence students’ school performance by disrupting their thinking and hindering their learning. At the same time, teachers need proven methods and strategies to assist students in coping with an increasingly challenging world.


Mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions like Shanthi Project's in-class mindfulness program have shown beneficial outcomes across an array of clinical problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, chronic pain, disordered eating, psychosis, and borderline personality disorder, among others.

We've been published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies!

Volunteer, Participate, or Donate


Research from the 2022-23 academic year focused on two key questions: 

  • Does mindfulness programming specifically for educators have an impact on classroom teacher well-being?

  • Are outcomes better in classrooms whose teachers take part in a mindfulness for educators training program?

Prior research from Marvine Elementary school showed classroom-level differences in the impacts of mindfulness. In that study, teachers reported an approximate:

14% increase

in their students’ positive behaviors (e.g., considering others’ feelings, sharing, helping others)

18% decrease

in their students’ problem behaviors (e.g., hyperactivity, impulsivity, conduct problems)

We also found that teachers who were more engaged in their students' mindfulness sessions, and who implemented mindfulness practices outside of the program, saw more positive results. As a result, we developed a classroom teacher mindfulness training program to explore its impacts on student and teacher outcomes. This programming was conducted as a 3-session, 14-hour in-person program, held at Donegan Elementary prior to the beginning of the school year.



Decreases in burnout and emotional exhaustion over time for teachers who went through the Mindfulness for Educators program.


Teachers & students whose teachers went through Mindfulness for Educators exhibited high engagement in Calm+Kind+Focused.


Increases in self-compassion for teachers who went through the Mindfulness for Educators program.


Significant increases in DESSA-scores from pre-program to post-program seen regardless of defining variables (grade, school, race, gender).

Decreases in emotional exhaustion and increases in self-compassion for teachers who went through the Mindfulness for Educators program highlight the importance of teacher investment in mindfulness.


Student engagement was high overall, especially when teachers underwent Mindfulness for Educators. This suggests that teachers who went through mindfulness training may be best equipped to support their students.


Finally, social-emotional competencies grew significantly overall for all students over the course of the Calm+Kind+Focused, no matter demographic identity factors. This provides support for the program's inclusivity and effectiveness for children across identity groups.

Student Life

"Working with [Shanthi Project] was this cool enmeshment of real thirst for bettering the world with kindness and compassion. They’re truly a project that models what they’re teaching.”


- Tovia Marinstein ‘20, Psychology Major, Muhlenberg College


Denise Veres, MS, RYT, Shanthi Project Founder

Denise founded Shanthi Project in 2010 after introducing yoga to incarcerated juvenile offenders in Northampton County. After learning about the childhood trauma suffered by this population, Veres considered the circumstances that led to their incarceration; trained in trauma-informed practices; and designed a trauma-informed platform to serve as an overarching building block for Shanthi Project’s programming. She spent the next decade researching the effects of Shanthi Project’s trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness programs on the social-emotional, behavioral, and psychological traits that trauma can influence. Veres greatly expanded Shanthi’s trauma-informed yoga and in-class mindfulness programs.


Mark J. Sciutto, PhD, Muhlenberg College 

Dr. Sciutto has been at Muhlenberg since the Fall of 2001. He teaches Psychological Statistics, Research Methods, Abnormal Psychology, Psychological Assessment, Developmental Psychopathology, and Advanced Research in Psychology. His research focuses on the role that knowledge and misconceptions of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) might play in families’ help-seeking behavior. He is also researching issues of stigma related to Asperger’s Syndrome and autism. Dr. Sciutto has collaborated with Shanthi Project research efforts for the past eight years. 


Daniel Massaro, MPH, Research and Development Coordinator

Daniel began working with incarcerated individuals in 2012 when he joined the Northampton County Re-entry Coalition. His introduction into working with at-risk youth was as a Research Assistant for Dr. Steinberg’s Juvenile Justice Lab at Temple University. Daniel served as the subcommittee chair of State Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s Pennsylvania Re-entry Council to further advocate for individuals returning to the community after incarceration.

bottom of page