2015 M4 Teacher Training Graduates

We are proud to celebrate our 10th anniversary of Teacher Training and welcome our 2015 cohort of mindfulness teachers who completed the M4 training requirements in the first full 3-day training retreat. Congratulations to all and we look forward to an on-going sharing in your insights and great work! Many thanks as well to our coach teachers, Brittany Glynn, Lakshmi Sundaram, Sheila Robertson, and Jessie Bossé.

 

2015 TTR Group

U of T Applied Mindfulness Meditation – MIND Certificate Program Registration Open Now

APPLIED MINDFULNESS MEDITATION – MIND CERTIFICATE PROGRAM AT UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

AMM-MIND program : an interprofessional certificate on mindfulness and mindfulness meditation training, education and integration into our lives. The Inter-professional AMM-MIND certificate at University of Toronto has become internationally , nationally and locally recognized as a unique and exceptional gathering of mindfulness based practitioners, faculty, and mindful leaders who are trying to co-operatively integrate mindfulness and mindfulness meditation into lives, as a way of being , 24/7.

It is our hope to enhance the health , wellness and resiliency of people- no matter what their walk in life. It is also our hope to enhance the humanity in organizations and to bring healthy change to the people who live, work and play in the many systems which make up a vibrant society.

At AMM-MIND we teach applications of mindfulness that are drawn from the 2500 year old traditions of contemplative practice which are now tested and translated into evidence based research. These practices have been proven to: enhance health, wellness and resiliency, develop increased attentional skills and focus, which can reduce error and stress, sick days etc. Imagine the impact of these practices in the health and/or educational system, in the corporate world, in decision making and in leadership. At AMM-MIND we work from a concept of the embodied mind rather than the enskulled brain, that is, we strive for the integration of mind-body relationship in community to enhance health , wellness, resiliency and humanity.

If you are interested in learning about this practice, its history of use and application, in how to integrate this practice into your life at work or at home, in the why and how we meditate then please come join us and be the change- as well as bring the change.

To explore our program’s offering, to seek further consultation with administration or to register for our Open House or workshops.

http://socialwork.utoronto.ca/conted/programs-and-workshops/certificates/mind/

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
University of Toronto
246 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON, Canada

Credible Teachers of Mindfulness: How can you know?

Mindfulness-Based programs have become the go-to treatment around the world and their popularity has made treatment more accessible in many ways. Despite the popularity or maybe because of it, several articles have argued against mindfulness because it  (1) seems to be the fix-it for many ills, (2) doesn’t stay true to its Buddhist roots and (3) understates its “dark side”. There is concern that mindfulness therapies and programs are often sold as much better than the traditional methods of treating depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. Such concerns were supported when a recent study showed that statistically mindfulness-based therapies (MBTs) have a moderate effect when studied in comparison with wait-list controls and when participants are compared to their pre-post scores. More than that, MBTs are not better than traditional cognitive behavioural therapy or pharmacological treatments. The deepest concern however relates to the qualifications of those who teach mindfulness as more and more programs are offered by individuals and groups with little or no training in mindfulness concepts and approaches.

Elisha Goldstein, writing for the magazine Mindfulness, re-stated some of these issues that constitute a “mindfulness backlash” in his recent blog post which claimed that there is little evidence for a backlash. What stands out in his discussion about the issues facing programs that offer mindfulness is the emphasis on trusting that “skilled mindfulness teachers” will neither over-sell the treatment scope and that “credible teachers” will walk participants through their misunderstanding of what is mindfulness. Goldstein goes on to say – even more emphatically – that it is important to seek out teachers who are well-trained. He adds a link to finding qualified teachers via the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts, the birthplace of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

What is left unsaid however is that the focus of all discussions and debates of mindfulness programs are anchored in the original one, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This particular program was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and the acronym has taken on an iconic status much like the terms Xerox or Kleenex. When most professionals discuss mindfulness programs they are typically referring to MBSR unless it is clear from the outset that the topic is related to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). This assumption leads to confusion because MBSR, while being the original, is not the only mindfulness treatment program.

Does it matter? Absolutely. While most programs have a similar format (8-10 weeks, groups, meditation and yoga, etc.), significant aspects of the program will differ. Even more than that, the type of training and confirmation of skills of the teacher will differ considerably. And since Goldstein makes a very good point that we need to find credible teachers, it is important to note that not all qualified mindfulness teachers will have been trained in MBSR itself.

Recently, the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts (CFM-UMass; the home base for MBSR and training of MBSR teachers) announced a format of teacher training that includes training those who will train teachers. While it’s perfectly understandable that CFM-UMass has taken a firm stand in cultivating MBSR teachers, this move is not without its detractors. However, it will filter those who have been teaching without full training at CFM-UMass and passing their programs off as MBSR. Nevertheless, this raises a difficult issue for those who have been trained in approaches that are not MBSR but which are legitimate approaches; the cachet of the term MBSR now takes on a more serious tone because many identify it as THE treatment program and may be confused by others.

That being the case, it is important to know that there are a number of other training centres that train teachers for mindfulness programs.

The M4 Program, Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic. The M4 (includes Mindfulness-Based Symptom Management; MBSM) training is in-depth and takes as long as a year. It requires applicants to have a clear rationale for wanting the training and expects a high level of participation. They attend the 8-week program as participants and do twice the expected formal and informal practices. They must attend a silent retreat in the year of their training. Current research and topics in mindfulness treatments are researched especially in their area of interest of specialization. They attend a training in the specifics of the delivering the program and in cultivating teacher qualities. Before teaching the M4 potential teachers must teach under supervision (qualification level) and then teach for 3 sessions with senior teachers in the clinic for Certification.

MBSR, University of Massachusetts, Center for Mindfulness. This is the original MBSR program and the training is extensive.

MBCT, The Centre for Mindfulness Studies. The training in MBCT is offered through various forms of study and teacher development. This program is supported by the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (University of Toronto) which offers a certificate in MBCT.

MiCBT, Mindfulness integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. An approach to mindfulness that weaves together Western psychology with Eastern principles of mindfulness. Training is comprehensive and a graduate diploma is offered for teachers.

Applied Mindfulness Meditation, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. This program offers what is likely one of the most extensive trainings in mindfulness, meditation, and all its attendant components.

Training in the UK. This website lists various programs that train mindfulness teachers, including MBCT teachers. Rebecca Crane and her colleagues at Bangor University have also developed a teaching assessment protocol for the cultivation of mindfulness teachers which is a gold standard for any teacher who is dedicated to cultivating their skills.

Mindful Self-Compassion, Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. Developed by Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff, Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) has developed a following in the last year as the teacher training becomes more available globally.

UCSD Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute. For training in various mindfulness-based programs such as Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention, Mindful Eating, etc.

Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy offers a certificate program in mindfulness and psychotherapy. The founding practitioners include Paul Fulton, Christopher Germer, Ronald Siegel, Trudy Goodman – all well-regarded in the field of meditation and clinical psychology.

If you intend to take a mindfulness program, ask the sticky questions. It’s your health and your wellbeing. Be informed. The program may not be MBSR. And it may be something valid and well-supported in its own right.

 

Is Mindfulness the same as Buddhism?

DSC_0049There’s been a lot of chatter on the internet these days about Mindfulness and Buddhism. In a nutshell, practitioners, writers, and philosophers of Buddhism have expressed concern about the potential misuse of Buddhist beliefs and concepts by mindfulness-based interventions or programs. There is much merit to these concerns although the discussions tend to become bogged down with a lot of arguments that missed the central point. There are important issues about Mindfulness and Buddhism as well as Mindfulness itself that anyone considering a program should take the time to investigate. Below are some of these issues that may be helpful to consider.

Are Mindfulness-Based Programs and Interventions the same as Buddhism?

The answer will vary depending on the framework we use to address it. At one level, mindfulness is a Buddhism-based concept so it is unavoidable that the core principles guiding any Mindfulness-Based Intervention or Program will reach into a Buddhist conceptualization of its meaning and practice. However, mindfulness has moved far enough away from Buddhist philosophy and has begun to draw from various fields of psychology such as Cognitive Theory, Positive Psychology, Motivational approaches, Organizational Psychology, that it can be said to be a new “wave” in the genre of psychological and organizational approaches.

If you are considering a mindfulness program, there are some underlying concepts and frameworks you may wish to know that will inform your decisions. In our course intakes, we are often asked if the program is Buddhist. We are also asked if there are aspects of the program that would interfere with the person’s religious views or practices. People also want to be assured that the program won’t impose values and beliefs on them that may not fit with their own values and beliefs. These are important questions and need to be addressed openly and all the more important with the debates going around on the Buddhist nature of mindfulness and the potential dangers of teaching it as a secular or psychological modality.

Is Mindfulness the same as Buddhism?

Not completely. We can organize mindfulness programs into two categories: Mindfulness-Informed (MI) and Mindfulness-Based (MB) approaches (edit: See Shapiro & Carlson’s book The Art and Science of Mindfulness). Mindfulness-Informed approaches will draw from Buddhist philosophy using concepts of impermanence, adaptive self (non self), and the reality of suffering. They can also introduce concepts of lovingkindness and compassion. MI approaches may not use meditation practices specifically. Typically, the professional is trained in Buddhist theory and/or practice and therefore understands how our attitude and interpretations of our difficulties leads to our sorrow and suffering. Mindfulness-Based approaches draw from Buddhist practices such as sitting and walking meditation, breath awareness, etc. and build from this a state of steadiness so that the issues that plague us can be faced in a skillful manner. (edit) Additionally, Mindfulness-Based approaches draw from current understanding of stress theory and other psychotherapeutic models. (edit end) The final intention of both MI and MB approaches is the same – the reduction of suffering. Neither approach requires nor relies on a belief in Buddhist religious concepts.

Are all Mindfulness Programs the same?

No. For clarity, I refer to interventions separately from programs. A Program is offered over a time period, typically 8-weeks and may or may have a psychological intent; it may be conducted individually or in a group. “Programs” may be offered for stress management, lifestyle changes, spiritual growth, personal wellness or development. An Intervention refers to the medical- or psychological-based intent of the approach; this may be delivered as a time-framed process in a group or individually. “Interventions” may be offered to deal with physical or psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, physical pain or injuries, etc. These typically require a registered health care professional to supervise or conduct the intervention. Research articles on mindfulness will refer to Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) or their specific label such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

There are many, many MBIs! Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Mindful Self-Compassion, Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (for addictions), Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training, Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training, and so on. And of course, just to add to the confusion, each of these will be taught under different “company” names. The M4 Program we offer at the OMC is a psychologically-based MBI and designed as an intervention for psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, chronic illness etc.

Are Mindfulness Instructors or Teachers accredited, certified or trained professionally?

Not all are. Most professionals will have taken at the very least a 5-day intensive training in the specific area of interest. Some will have continued from this to take on-going training with specialists in their field. (edit) All MBI teachers are expected to have a personal meditative/contemplative practice to support their teaching skills and personal development. (edit end) Health Care Professionals who work in the Mindfulness-Informed approaches will likely have trained in their specific treatment modality (CBT, EFT, etc.) and also continued with a Buddhist or other contemplative practice tradition. Others will have obtained accreditation from specific organizations.  The Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts offers a teacher certification program for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programs. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy accreditation is available from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion offers teacher training in Mindful Self-Compassion. The University of California at San Diego is developing a Professional Training Institute that will allow teacher-development programs in several streams of Mindfulness-Based Interventions.

One aspect of the training/accreditation question is to consider whether the facilitator or instructor is accredited in their own field of expertise. All health care professionals have a regulatory organization which certifies their training; mindfulness can be viewed as a therapeutic intervention that they provide as a trained health care professional. Other professionals such as educators, coaches, and spiritual care professionals,  will have professional organization that verify their credentials as a trained professional.

Do all Mindfulness-Based Programs have the same positive effect?

It depends. Research shows that MBIs have a positive impact for many issues. Whether an individual experiences the expected positive change depends on the “good fit” between the individual and the program. If the issue is depression, then a “stress” program may not do the job. If there are issues of anxiety that are not disclosed at the intake (yes, there should be an intake!), then this can have an impact on their experience of the program. What can increase the probability of a “good fit” is asking lots of questions at the information session or the intake appointment. The most frequent issues that derail the program for participants are as follows:

  • Realizing that there is a certain amount of sharing that happens in the course
  • Finding out it is not like a school course where we get all the answers from the teachers
  • Not realizing how much time the practices take
  • Wanting a “quick fix”
  • Needing certainty that the practices will work
  • Wanting to “get rid” of the problem

These are all important questions to consider and to ask if you are thinking of taking a Mindfulness-Based Program. It is about your health and well-being. Be proactive. Understand the scope and limits of MBIs. Most of all, know the people offering the programs.

Professional Training in Foundations of Mindfulness Interventions and the M4 Programs

IMG_1131Registration for our 2014 Professional Training in Mindfulness for Well Being (M4) is now open.

This training program spans up to one year of training and consists of participation in one of the 8-week M4 courses offered at the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic, guided self-study of current research and books on Mindfulness Interventions, a silent retreat, and the Teacher Skills Training Retreat.

The M4 program courses are Mindfulness for (M4)  Stress & Symptom Management, M4-Pain Management, M4-Burnout Resilience, M4-Health Care Professionals, and M4-Military & Veterans Recovery.

Successful completion of the program provides a Level I certificate in Foundations of Mindfulness Interventions & the essentials of the  M4 Program.

Please contact the Program Coordinator at

mindful(@)ottawamindfulnessclinic(.)com

(copy and remove parentheses to use email address)

Teacher Training Graduates 2012

Give It Away & Simply Love

We are thrilled to introduce our new graduates from the 2012 Teacher Training Program in Foundations of Mindfulness.  These amazing health care professionals, clinical psychology PhD candidates and medical students, and even an ethicist took part in the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Symptom Management program as participant-observers, wrote papers and reviews of the current literature and research, and completed the intensive weekend retreat with terrific courage and equanimity.  It was particularly challenging as the air conditioning in the clinic broke down with little warning.  The alternate venue we found provided all of us with ample practice as its air conditioning died, the replacement was inadequate, and the final one installed was only functional because of two powerful fans in the room.  The temperature for the three days was brutal as the participants, coaches, and teachers practice extinguishing the desire for things to be different.  We called this the inaugural session of Hot Mindfulness!

Thank you to the coaches for their terrific guidance and we look forward to seeing the participants’ program designs come to fruition over the next few years!

Remember, you may not be the first to deliver mindfulness but you must ensure you are not the last to do so.  Give it away and simply love!

A Celebration of 10-years and a new site!

The OMC began in 2003 with a class of 10 people drawn from our private practice.  We met in a conference room at the Riverside Hospital that barely fit 12 of us and a three-section oak conference table.  Each evening that table had to be stacked in the corner so we could do the Body Scan lying down.  The intercom would blare and the code alarms would sound.  Somehow we managed.

Now, ten years later, we practice in a lovely meditation room set next to our offices available for daily meditations, classes, and the Alumni sessions.  On this 10th series of sessions, we are offering four classes of MBSR and look forward to this ever-increasing spiral outward into society.  We continue with our professional training in Foundational Mindfulness-Based Interventions, a course we have conducted continuously since 2005.

In celebration, we have just published our new website and will move our blog there.  Please join us.  There are still a few tweaks on the blog page that need to be done and we hope that will be completed shortly.

The inaugural post will be a review of Mark Williams’ terrific book, Mindfulness: An eight-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world.

Thank you to all our participants whose enthusiasm and dedication made all this possible!  May your days be light and joyful.  May your practice bring you peace and love.