First Do No Harm: Foundational Competencies for Working Skillfully with Meditation-Related Challenges

With Willoughby Britton, Jared LindahlFirst Do No Harm
and David Treleaven

Course Details

3-Day Meditation Safety Training for MBSR teachers

Day 1: Meditation-Related Difficulties: Research Overview
Day 1 reviews the findings from the Varieties of Contemplative Experience project, as well as related adverse effects data on mindfulness-based interventions. The training includes detailed descriptions of meditation-related challenges, including subject quotes, how often they occur, how long they last and risk factors.

Day 2: Foundational Knowledge and Skills
Day 2 focuses more on concrete steps to ensure safety for your program, and includes four modules: informed consent, screening, monitoring, and management, which are described below. This module is accompanied by access to the Meditation Safety Toolbox, which includes official curricula and implementation guidelines, informed consent, screening instruments from the UMASS, Oxford and Bangor mindfulness centers, as well as a folder of research and other resources. The Toolbox is updated monthly to stay current on new developments.

Informed Consent: This module reviews the informed consent process, and its legal implications. Here we review advertising brochures, and other statement of benefits vs limitations and risks. Examples of informed consent documents, and advertisements from mindfulness programs are provided.

Screening: The screening module provides training in how to screen participants who are interested in taking an MBI program, and includes review of inclusion/exclusion criteria and decision trees for participation, and screening instruments.

Monitoring: The monitoring module teaches facilitators how to adequately monitor or track potential adverse reactions in their mindfulness clients. Expecting the students to spontaneously report difficulties to the facilitator, a process known as “passive monitoring” is not adequate. Proper monitoring, must be active, ask specific questions, and be anonymous and non-penalizing. This module focuses on the meditation-related difficulties that are most likely to occur with MBI interventions, such as anxiety/panic, traumatic re-experiencing and dissociation.

Day 3: Management Strategies
The management module teaches facilitators how to manage difficulties once they arise, as well as modify their instructions to minimize the likelihood of adverse reactions. This module draws heavily from trauma-informed therapies. Specific exercises and practices are provided, as well as other resources for further training.

Friday April 6:  5:00pm - 9:00pm
Saturday, April 7:  9:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday, April 8:  9:00am - 5:00pm

Friday Evening Only:  $75
Saturday and Sunday Only:  $675
Friday, Saturday and Sunday:  $725

222 Maple Street, Shrewsbury, MA -  Directions

  • You will be re-directed to our online registration system where you will create a username and password
  • You will be sent an email to confirm your account - you must reply to this email to confirm
  • Return to the registration page and log in
  • This course is listed under Special Programs at the bottom of the list - 'Areas of Learning' ('First do no Harm')


The CFM has secured a block of rooms at Hampton Inn and Suites at a discounted rate for this event.  Please click here for details.


Willoughby Britton

Willoughby Britton, PhDDr. Britton earned a B.A. in Neuroscience from Colgate University in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology form the University of Arizona in 2007.  She is the recipient of two National Research Service Awards (NRSA) and a Career Development Award (CDA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She is currently the Director of Brown’s Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory which investigates the psychophysiological (EEG, EMG, EKG) and neurocognitive effects of cognitive training and mindfulness-based interventions for mood and anxiety disorders. Research questions investigate which cognitive training practices are best or worst suited for which types of conditions and why, moderators of treatment outcome, practice-specific effects, and adverse effects. Current NIH-funded studies include a 3-armed RCT  entitled “Dismantling Mindfulness” that compares the effects of three different types of meditation training programs on pre-frontal cortex functioning in depression; and a collaborative infrastructure grant (UH2) with Harvard and UMASS entitled “Mindfulness Influences on Self-Regulation: Mental and Physical Health Implications”.  An interdisciplinary qualitative study entitled “The Varieties of Contemplative Experience,” is investigating under-reported and potentially challenging, distressing or impairing meditation-related effects.

As a clinician, she has been trained as an instructor in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and has taught mindfulness to both clinical and non-clinical populations, and in federally-funded clinical trials.

Jared Lindahl

Jared Lindahl, PhDJared Lindahl is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Brown University and is director of the humanities research track in the Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Lab. In 2010 Dr. Lindahl began collaborating on the Varieties of Contemplative Experience research project, and in 2014 he came to Brown in order to direct the ongoing data collection and qualitative analysis. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His dissertation research adopted a bio-cultural methodology to investigate the significance of light-related experiences and discourses in Buddhist and Christian contemplative traditions, a part of which informed the first publication from the VCE study. His ongoing research continues to integrate historical and textual studies of contemplative traditions with phenomenological and neurobiological approaches in order to elucidate the relationship between contemplative practices, resultant experiences, and culturally situated appraisals of meaning and value.

David Treleaven

David TreleavenDavid Treleaven, PhD, is a writer, educator, and trauma professional whose work focuses on the intersection of mindfulness, trauma, and social justice. He received his master’s in counseling psychology at the University of British Columbia, and a doctorate in East-West psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. He currently teaches with Strozzi Institute, which helps leaders embody skillful action, and with generative somatics, an organization that engages in trauma healing with social justice organizers to support their work and leadership.

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