FAQs: Teacher Education & Certification
We certify teachers of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. To apply for and receive our teacher certification the following is required:
- Deep commitment to the work of practicing and teaching MBSR and mindfulness
- Independent ability to pursue the required course of MBSR study and practice
- Successful completion of all training requirements listed on this website, including silent retreats
- Considerable MBSR and mindfulness teaching experience, which is part of the training process
People seek certification either because it allows them to teach in institutional settings like hospitals and universities (which often require such certification), or because of an intention to take up MBSR teaching as their main work.
We do not require that people be certified in order to teach, but we do recommend that you consider becoming certified if you wish to make teaching your main work, especially if you plan to teach MBSR in a healthcare or other educational setting. Take a look at the program details to see the minimum requirements to begin teaching.
After you have completed the MBSR Fundamentals course you can begin teaching introductory mindfulness courses. These “taste of mindfulness” sessions are up to you to design. We recommend starting with a 4-6 week series of classes that are 1-2 hours in duration, but the specifics will depend on your particular circumstances. Developing these sessions is a great part of the process of learning to teach, before taking on the complexity and challenge of teaching a full 8-week course, in which the sessions are 2.5 hours long.
One can become a teacher of MBSR without a graduate degree, though we prefer that teachers have graduate degrees in a relevant field (e.g. psychology, medicine, or education). We recognize that the depth of a person's professional and personal commitment to this work is more important than the field of study or level of degree. Some people have applied for MBSR teacher certification without a graduate degree, or with a degree from an unrelated field, and have successfully demonstrated that their life experience, both on a personal and professional basis, provided an equivalent level of skill and understanding. We are open to people making such a case when they apply for certification. We cannot, however, guarantee that we will accept all such requests. Furthermore, we cannot provide an advanced review of a person's qualifications and experience. The only time when we can review your experience for equivalency to a graduate degree is when you submit your portfolio for teacher certification review.
Depending on course availability and timings, it is possible to complete the training components in two years. That said, in 30 years of international teaching and training experience, we have learned that it takes time, intention, and practice to develop a skillful MBSR teacher. Some people try to fit all of the required courses together as quickly as possible. We ask that you allow time to integrate what you learn from each step in the process before rushing into the next step. Please review our Principles and Standards for our perspective on this process
We do not offer, and we strongly caution against the use of, any quick path to becoming an MBSR teacher. Sometimes people feel a sense of urgency to start teaching. While we understand and appreciate the inspiration, it is vitally important to note that preparing to teach MBSR is not just about following a prepared curriculum. Teaching MBSR requires the ability to skillfully meet the extraordinary range of human suffering that often presents itself in class. An MBSR teacher trainee needs to allow the time to cultivate a rich and deep mindfulness meditation practice, to explore the curriculum fully, and to develop the necessary teaching skills.
I have been meditating for a long time. Do I need to do all the training or can I start at a level commensurate with my experience?
Over the years we have trained many MBSR teachers with extensive meditation retreat experience and meditation teaching experience. We have found that it is essential for MBSR teacher trainees to complete the full sequence of training. If you have been attending retreats that meet our criteria, the only difference in your process may be that you do not need to attend additional retreats. Your past retreats will suffice if they took place in the last three years, and we strongly encourage attendance at such retreats on an ongoing basis.
Will courses from other, similar organizations be accepted as training courses for CFM teacher certification?
Applicants who have taken non-CFM courses will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if their previous course work is equivalent and can be accepted.
Do I need to do all of my training at the Center for Mindfulness? Are trainings offered closer to where I live?
The core trainings listed in our curriculum must be completed either with the CFM or one of our affiliates.
The prerequisites to MBSR teacher training may be available in the area in which you live. For example, in your area you may find an 8-week MBSR course or a suitable retreat.
Mindfulness in Mind Body Medicine (SR-FLEX), is our “flex” course, which means it can be taken at any point in the training process prior to submission of your portfolio for teacher certification review.
Generally, Supervision sessions should be scheduled during the same period of time that you are teaching an 8-Week MBSR or other mindfulness class. They can include reviewing your class plans, discussing your teaching, and receiving feedback. There are two types of Supervision, Group (SR-403) and Individual (SR-404). Group Supervision includes a small community of new teachers under the guidance of one who has considerable experience. Individual sessions provide the support and guidance of an experienced MBSR teacher while you are teaching an 8-week course.
As a criterion for teaching MBSR, we require extended, silent, teacher-led retreats that emphasize the practice of mindfulness meditation. Please see our retreats page for a list of programs that meet our requirements. Some are offered in collaboration with the CFM, which you will see listed first. There is also a list of organizations whose retreats meet our prerequisites as described, but are not in direct collaboration with the CFM
I have done other types of retreats (Yoga, Christian contemplative, Hindu, Jewish, etc.) - do such retreats meet Oasis training requirements?
While we respect and appreciate the value of retreats from many different contemplative traditions, unless a retreat emphasizes mindfulness teachings, is silent, is teacher-led, and is five days or longer in duration, it will not qualify.
I have a degree in health care (medicine, psychology, nursing, social work, etc.), and many years of professional experience. Is there a single workshop I can take to get started teaching mindfulness workshops and/or MBSR?
The majority of teachers we train have professional experience in healthcare and related fields. Regardless of past experience, training, and education, the programs outlined on this website are necessary for all prospective MBSR teachers. There is no single workshop that will enable you to teach MBSR.
I don't really want to teach the 8-week MBSR course. I want to adapt the principles of MBSR into my work with patients/clients. Which training courses should I take?
Since having a well-established daily mindfulness meditation practice is the foundation for sharing this work with others, we recommend first taking an MBSR course as aparticipant, both to support your own practice and also to become acquainted with how the course is taught and how you and other participants respond to it. In addition, we encourage participation in a suitable silent retreat to help you deepen your own mindfulness practice.
Upon completion of an 8 Week MBSR course and a qualifying retreat, you are eligible to take the Oasis Institute’s MBSR Fundamentals, which qualifies you to lead shorter mindfulness programs. For those health care practitioners who do not aspire to teach the full 8-week MBSR course, but wish to integrate the MBSR practices into their existing work, this may be sufficient.
We also highly recommend the Mindfulness in Mind-Body Medicine 7-Day Training, which provides a strong experience of mindfulness practice as taught in MBSR and explores the applications of mindfulness in medicine and healthcare.
I’d like to train to teach Mindful Eating. Does CFM train people for that? How does it fit into the Oasis training?
Facilitator training for leading Mindful Eating sessions is in development. Please watch our website and emails for new of this program when it is launched.
I would like to talk with someone knowledgeable about my intention to train as an MBSR teacher, to help me determine if I should go ahead – who should I contact?
Please join cfmHOME, our online community, and visit the Oasis Institute room. There, you can join the ongoing conversation, ask questions, and hear directly from trainees who are already engaged in the program. The room is also supported by a moderator who is one of our MBSR teachers.
Are the courses I took under the old names (Practicum, TDI, etc.) honored now that you have changed the naming convention?
Yes! Please click here for our new course naming conventions. The name changes are intended to make the information clearer for everyone involved. All previous training in the Oasis Institute will be honored within the new naming convention.
This is determined by the circumstances of the particular program and the host in whatever country the program occurs. Please connect with the host organization for the program you are considering.
I am applying for a training program and get an error message from the application system – what should I do?
Please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that we handle high volumes of messages, and know that we will respond as quickly as we can.
Launched in 2015, cfmHOME is a project of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Dedicated to supporting mindfulness practitioners, teachers, and researchers around the globe, cfmHOME hosts a variety of online resources including community discussion forums and digital media.
Visit cfmHOME™ for information regarding professional education and the Oasis Institute, FAQ’s, access to the Oasis community, and CFM moderator(s).
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(NOTE: the color coding on cfmHOME will help with navigation of this site.) You may also create new discussions, post articles, and share your experiences.