The foundation for teaching MSC is to embody the qualities of mindfulness and self-compassion and to have an ongoing, daily practice. MSC teachers are often deeply moved by the transformation of their participants and honored to share in this transformation. Some say teaching self-compassion makes their personal practice even deeper and more meaningful and feels like a natural extension of self-compassion into the world.
The Teacher Training Pathway
The first step of the teacher pathway is to complete the 6-day residential or 12-week online teacher training course. This training is intended for those who wish to teach the MSC program, those who would like to integrate mindfulness and self-compassion in their ongoing professional activities (i.e., psychotherapy, coaching, nursing, teaching, etc.) and individuals who have a professional interest in the field (i.e., researchers, administrators, etc.). If you wish to be granted Trained MSC Teacher status and teach the 8-week, in-person MSC course, you must also complete steps 2-4.
- Step 1: 6-Day Residential or 12-Week Online Teacher Training
- Step 2: Teacher Training Practicum
- Step 3: Co-Teach first MSC course with Zoom Consultation
- Step 4: Apply for Trained Teacher status
As a partner organisation of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion (CMSC) the Centrum voor Mindfulness (CVM) supports prospective teachers in the first step of their journey to becoming a Trained or Certified Teacher, more details of which are given below.
Step 1: 6-Day Residential or 12-week Online Teacher Training
The Residential Teacher Training is an intensive, 6-day, in-person course facilitated by a team of senior MSC teachers. The training is built around the eight weekly sessions of MSC with each half day dedicated to a condensed, experiential review of one of the sessions, followed by small group activities designed to give attendees opportunities to practice teaching, guiding and facilitating discussion in that session with the close consultation of one of the Teacher Trainers. In addition, the training includes short talks, group exercises, discussion and periods of silence. Participants will be provided with the essential materials to teach the standard 8-week MSC course.
The Online Teacher Training is run over an extended 12-week period. It contains all the same elements as the residential training and, additionally, includes the full MSC course. There are two online sessions per week: one MSC session that is 3 hours, one “teachback” session that is usually 1.75 hours duration.
At the completion of the above mentioned is activities, participants should be able to:
- Deepen one’s personal practice of responding to difficult emotions with mindfulness and compassion.
- Understand the current theory and research on self-compassion.
- Identify the core themes and practices presented in each of the eight group sessions of MSC, plus the retreat day.
- Develop the skills necessary to facilitate MSC groups, including how to guide meditation, teach from each participant’s direct experience, and facilitate group cohesion.
- Identify obstacles to mindful self-compassion practice and strategies for overcoming them.
- Embody a mindful and compassionate stance toward students of the MSC program as they confront challenges to their practice.
Please read the following prior to attending the training. All books are available on our Amazon Bookshelf.
- On Becoming a MSC Teacher: A Mountaineer’s Guide to Building the Resource of Mindful Self-Compassion by Christine Braehler, Steven D. Hickman, and Christopher Germer.
- Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program: A Guide for Professionals by Christopher Germer & Kristin Neff.
- The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive by Kristin Neff & Christopher Germer.
- Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff.
- The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher Germer.
- Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing by David Treleaven.
- Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy by Christopher Germer and Ronald Siegel.
- Mindfulness and Psychotherapy – Second Edition by Christopher Germer, Ronald Siegel and Paul Fulton.
- The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert.
- The Mindfulness Solution by Ronald Siegel.
- Self-Compassion: Step by Step. CD set by Kristin Neff.
The prerequisites for taking the MSC Teacher Training are:
- Established daily mindfulness practice of at least two years.
- Ongoing, daily, sitting meditation practice.
- Ongoing practice of loving-kindness and self-compassion in daily life.
- Previous participation in an 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) course or 5-day Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive.
- Attendance in at least one 5-day silent, teacher-led, mindfulness-based meditation retreat.
- Experience teaching meditation in groups.
- You must allow at least 6 months to elapse between completing your MSC course and beginning Teacher Training. This will allow you to reflect on whether you really want to begin the teaching journey and give you time to embody the practices of MSC. However, you may register for teacher training at any time after you complete the MSC course.
- Other mindfulness-based training programs do not count as a substitute for the standard MSC course pre-requisite.
- You do not have to be a mental health clinician to take the MSC Teacher Training.
Step 2: Teacher Training Practicum (TTP)
The TTP is a ten-week, online journey for a group of up to 16 teachers to practice their new-found teaching skills in a safe, structured, online environment facilitated by two Certified MSC Teachers/TTP Trainers. Each week focuses on a single MSC session and all trainees come prepared to teach each session, and are then assigned to lead the various practices, topics and exercises of that session, with periods of feedback and discussion. There is also opportunity to connect beyond the weekly sessions and build a sense of community among teachers.
The TTP provides new teachers with a “laboratory” to find their own voices and to continue to practice what they learned at the Residential Teacher Training, with time between each session to review, prepare and reflect on the process of teaching MSC. The cohort model allows participants the unique opportunity to build an environment of safety and support among colleagues as a source of encouragement and assistance long after the practicum ends.
Once you have been accepted on the Teacher Training program, you will be provided with a link to register for your Teacher Training Practicum. Each weekly session is 2.5 hours duration.
All MSC teachers-in-training who have completed the TTP are strongly advised to teach their first course within one year, and must teach their first course within two years of completing the TTP.
Step 3: Co-Teach first MSC course with Zoom Consultation
Once teachers have successfully completed the 6-day residential or 12-week online teacher training course and the TTP, they can co-teach their first 8-week MSC course in-person, with simultaneous enrollment in a series of ten, group consultation sessions. The consultations are conducted online, via Zoom and offer a rich opportunity for guidance and support during your first teaching experience. There are up to 6 teachers-in-training present in each session, facilitated by a Teacher Trainer or Senior MSC Teacher.
Please note, MSC teacher trainees are only permitted to teach MSC in-person and will therefore need to wait until the lockdown is lifted before commencing this stage of their training journey. Teaching MSC online is a more complex endeavor and only experienced, certified teachers may teach MSC online.
Requirements for Zoom Consultation to count towards Trained Teacher status
To be eligible for Trained Teacher status at the end of your first teaching/ Zoom consultation experience, please ensure you meet the following requirements:
- Your MSC course must have at least 8 registered participants.
- You should have a co-teacher and be teaching at least 50% of the course. If no co-teacher is available you should be supported by a General Assistant or Mental Health Assistant.
- Your course must be taught in-person, it must follow the MSC curriculum and not be a modification or adaptation of the curriculum.
Step 4: Apply for Trained Teacher status
Once you have completed the steps outlined above, you will be awarded Trained Teacher status. You will receive a Trained Teacher certificate, be listed as a Trained Teacher on the MSC teacher directory and be permitted to teach the 8-week, in-person MSC course independently.
Certification is verification of a teacher’s competence whereas the designation of Trained Teacher simply recognizes that a person has completed the requisite training activities. Certification is highly recommended for those who continue to teach on an ongoing basis or wish to teach MSC Intensives or other adaptations.
Trained MSC teachers are eligible to START the pathway towards certification after teaching at least 3 MSC courses, wherein they can do the Collaborative Assessment with an approved MSC Mentor/Teacher Trainer. The process then entails a minimum of 14 hours of individual mentorship over the course of teaching at least two more MSC courses.
More information is outlined on the UCSD website.