MBSR and MBCT- Background

DSCN0540Mindfulness is not a new concept, the term mindfulness is a Western translation of the Pali word, sati, meaning awareness, attention, or, keeping in mind. Mindfulness practices have their origins in the 2,500 year-old tradition of Buddhism.

The secular practice of mindfulness in the Western world can be attributed to Jon Kabat-Zinn, who, in the late 70’s developed an 8 week group program to assist patients living with chronic pain, in the pain clinic of a university–based medical centre, in Boston, Massachusetts. The program is now known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction – MBSR.

With MBSR, Kabat-Zinn distilled the elements of Buddhist mindfulness practices applicable to Western health and psychology. As such, mindfulness-based approaches can offer universal applications, not tied to any religious or philosophical traditions, and can be considered as grounded in the universal dharma.

Both MBSR and MBCT are 8 week experiential group programs, taught by experienced, trained instructors who are expected to maintain their own mindfulness practice.  Central to these approaches is the cultivation of mindful awareness, through the daily practice of mindfulness meditation practices. The core practices are the Body Scan, Mindful Movement/ Yoga, and Mindful Sitting meditations. These practices are guided in the weekly groups by instructors, and practised between the group sessions at home by group participants, initially with the support of guided CDs/ MP3s. During the course, group participants also experiment with ways to bring mindful awareness to their everyday living. Weekly group sessions also include discussion of participants’ experiences of the mindfulness practices,  along with psycho-education, exercises and activities that develop on participants’ experiential learning, and draw links to their own lived experience.

MBSR has been used effectively with the general public, in the workplace, and in the management of chronic pain, stress, anxiety, eating disorders, fybromyalga, substance abuse and with cancer patients.. MBCT – Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy – was developed originally to prevent depressive relapse in previously depressed individuals (Segal, Williams & Teasdale, 2002). MBCT uses the core curriculum of MBSR, and incorporates cognitive behavioural elements and exercises, and has been adapted for use with individuals with stress, anxiety and low mood.

Here is a link to a 10 minute video from The Center for Mindfulness, USA, where Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues give insight into the background and development of MBSR.

Jon Kabat-Zinn: Coming to our Senses

Good Practice Guidance for Teaching Mindfulness-Based Courses

These guidelines were established by the UK Network of Mindfulness-Based Teacher Trainers, 2010.

A Prior training or relevant background

  1. Professional qualification in clinical practice, education or social context or equivalent life experience.
  2. Knowledge of the populations that the mindfulness-based approach will be delivered to, including experience of teaching, therapeutic or other care provision with groups and individuals.
  3. A professional mental health training that includes the use of evidenced based therapeutic approaches (if delivering MBCT).

B Foundational training

  1. Familiarity through personal participation with the mindfulness-based course curriculum that you will be learning to teach.
  2. In-depth personal experience with daily mindfulness meditation practice, which includes the three core practices of mindfulness-based programmes – body scan, sitting meditation and mindful movement (plus the Kindly Awareness practice if teaching a Breathworks programme.

Mindfulness-based teacher training

C Mindfulness-based teacher training

  1. Completion of an in-depth, rigorous mindfulness-based teacher training programme/pathway over a minimum duration of 12 months.
  2. Development of awareness of the ethical framework within which you are working.
  3. Development of awareness and recognition of the limitations and boundaries of your training and experience.
  4. Engagement in a regular supervision process with an experienced mindfulness-based teacher(s) which includes:
    a. Opportunity to reflect on/inquire into personal process in relation to personal mindfulness practice and mindfulness-based teaching practice;
    b. Receiving periodic feedback on teaching from an experienced mindfulness-based teacher through video recordings, supervisor sitting in on teaching sessions or co-teaching and building in feedback sessions.
  5. Participation in a residential teacher-led mindfulness meditation retreat.

D.  Ongoing good practice requirements

  1. Ongoing commitment to a personal mindfulness practice through daily formal and informal practice and attendance on retreat.
  2. Ensuring that ongoing contacts with mindfulness-based colleagues are built and maintained as a means to share experiences and learn collaboratively.
  3. Ongoing and regular process of supervision by an experienced teacher(s) of mindfulness-based approaches which includes the areas cited in C4 above.
  4. Ongoing commitment to reflective practice supported by for example, viewing recordings of own teaching sessions, connections with mindfulness teacher(s) and regular reading of books from the field of mindfulness.
  5. Engaging in further training to develop skills and understanding in delivering mindfulness-based approaches.
  6. Ongoing adherence to the appropriate ethical framework of your background.