The advantages of individual mindfulness
Mindfulness training is foremostly known as a group training. Although a group setting warrants some effects such as learning from the other participants and a sense of common humanity which are hard to reproduce in an individual setting, mindfulness training in an individual setting has proven to be as effective as group training and has a lot to offer. Firstly, not everybody wants or can participate in a group training and not everybody profits to the same extend from a group setting. Another benefit is that the individual training allows for personal and full attention of the trainer and the possiblity to tailor the program to individual needs, e.g. to personal life situations, institutional settings, physical or mental challenges. Finally, there is a strong pragmatic argument in favor of individual mindfulness: one participant is enough to start the training. This offers huge planning benefits in favor of both the teacher’s and the participant’s needs.
The development of the Individual Mindfulness Training (iMBCT)
Early in the 2010s, Dr Maya Schroevers and dr. Joke Fleer were looking for a way to support an outpatient population the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) in managing the psychological effects of suffering from chronic diabetes mellitus (diabetes). As group training was not an option due to organizational restrictions of the Center, they resorted, in consultation with experts in the field, to developing a protocol to a one to one-version of the MBCT group training. This made it possible for hospital outpatient workers to teach an eight week mindfulness program within the setting of a regular one-to-one health care practice setting.
The iMBCT-program has proven to be effective in improving the mood of the participants, as research has shown (cf. Mindfulness, August 2013, Diabetes Care, September 2014). More recent a random controlled trial (RCT) has shown that: ‘Group and individual Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy are both effective’ (cf. Mindfulness, August 2016).
In a recent letter in Mindfulness the teachers/researchers, after giving a summary of the success of their program, express their astonishment of the fact that mindfulness in an individual setting is still gets relatively gets so little attention among researchers and mindfulness teachers, while it has so much potention.
Not íf, but hów
Since individual mindfulness proves to be effective, even as effective as group mindfulness, the question is not so much if we need individual mindfulness, but when and how we should offer this to our clients. For this, some questions are to be considered:
The iMBCT Program
Individual mindfulness training is not simply the group program with 1 participant – that would not work. The teachers Dr Maya Schroevers and Dr Joke Fleer have reworked and adapted the original MBCT program to a version which makes optimal use of the strengths of an individual setting whilst reducing its limitations as far as possible. As in MBCT, they developed a protocol, which they called individual MBCT, or iMBCT. During this course they will train you in the specifics of this iMBCT protocol. At the course you will receive the iMBCT protocol in print and after you will receive the workbook of the training (both in PDF and Word format).
This online course consists of four consecutive half days (with one follow up session later on). The course the program iMBCT will be explained, after which we will practice with key features of the program, especially those which differ from a group program. Some of the themes that will be addressed:
- exploration (starting from participant’s experiences) of the benefits and challenges of individual mindfulness as compared to group mindfulness;
- indications for when individual mindfulness may be more beneficial or feasible than group mindfulness;
- explanation and run-through of the iMBCT protocol;
- keys to and practice of guiding exercises in an individual setting;
- guidelines and practice of conducting inquiry in an individual setting;
- general background, applications, evidence and scientific research into iMBCT.
Themes are presented interactively; participants are invited to bring in their own experiences and questions in working with (individual) mindfulness.
In the follow-up session we will exchange and feedback on our experiences with iMBCT in our own locations. Plus you will get deepening insight in guiding iMBCT practices and inquiring into them in an individual setting.
After this workshop you will be able to teach iMBCT, having:
- a grounded understanding of the specifics of individual mindfulness, it’s do’s and don’ts, its answers and still open questions and issues;
- arguments and knowledge for an informed choice between individual or group training in specific cases;
- knowledge how to create a beneficial learning environment for individual mindfulness;
- practice experience in guiding inquiry in individual settings;
- knowledge of and insight into the iMBCT protocol;
- knowledge of the proven benefits of iMBCT according to research.
MBCT and MBSR
Note: however iMBCT is, as the term implies, primarily based on the MBCT-format, the Individual Mindfulness Teacher Training can also be followed by MBSR-trainers, as long as they know the MBCT protocol (see also under ‘Course Material’) and are, on an experiental level, at least familiar with the MBCT Breathing Space.
Since knowledge on MBCT is necessary, you are expected to be acqainted with the book Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale. This book will serve as a reference during the course.
Continued learning opportunities
After the course, you are eligible to give the iMBCT program as a trained teacher. However, we encourage you to continue your learning process. To support you in this, after the course one to one monitoring (supervision) by Skype or phone is offered through the teachers while giving your iMBCT program for the first time. (You can arrange the mentoring sessions – not free of charge – with your iMBCT teacher after the course.)
While giving your first iMBCT program, you are also invited to write up a reflection report (6 to 8 pages). This report should address the themes on which you will be learning, in particular those themes dealing with the specificity of the individual setting of the training. The report, submitted in PDF or Word, will be reviewed by your mentor.
Summary: the pathway to iMBCT-certification
These aforementioned learning opportunities together form a complete learning trajectory:
- The four half-day sessions plus a follow-up session
- Two mentoring/supervision sessions while you give your first individual training
- Writing and submitting a reflection report
Together, the steps offer the learning path to become a certified iMBCT teacher. You will receive a certification and can be listed as a certified teacher on the CvM website.
The three-day international module complies with the two-plus-one day Dutch module.
The teacher training Individual MBCT (iMBCT) is a coproduction of the CVM and the University Medical Center Groningen.
This teacher training is for mindfulness teachers who are trained and experienced in giving the MBSR/MBCT group training (at least to have followed a Foundational MBSR/MBCT teacher training of minimal 8 full teaching days).
The program is English spoken. Dutch participants welcome if comfortable in English, both speaking and listening.