“For someone to develop genuine compassion towards others, first he or she must have a basis upon which to cultivate compassion, and that basis is the ability to connect to one’s own feelings and to care for one’s own welfare… Caring for others requires caring for oneself.”
—Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
MSC Teacher Training is an intensive, 6-day, residential program 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 MSC programs.
At the completion of this activity, participants should be able to:
- Deepen one’s personal practice of responding to difficult emotions with mindfulness and compassion
- Summarize current basic 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
This 6-day intensive 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.).
Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is an empirically-supported 8-week program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion. Based on pioneering research by Kristin Neff and integrated with the clinical perspective of Christopher Germer, MSC teaches core principles and practices that enable participants to respond to difficult emotions with care and understanding.
The three key components of self-compassion are self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and balanced, mindful awareness. Kindness opens our hearts to suffering, so we can give ourselves what we need. Common humanity opens us to others, so that we know we aren’t alone. Mindfulness opens us to the present moment, so we can accept our experience with greater ease. Together they comprise a state of warmhearted, connected, presence during difficult moments in our lives.
Self-compassion can be learned by anyone, even those who didn’t receive enough affection in childhood or who feel uncomfortable when they are good to themselves. It’s a courageous attitude that stands up to harm, including the harm that we inflict on ourselves through self-criticism, self-denial, or self-absorption. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, forgive ourselves, motivate ourselves with kindness, care for others, and be fully human.
Rapidly expanding research clearly demonstrates that self-compassion is related to emotional wellbeing, lower anxiety and depression, maintenance of healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and more satisfying personal relationships.
Trained Teacher Designation
The purpose of the 6-day Teacher Training is to establish a basic level of training and proficiency sufficient to begin offering the program to the general public. To receive MSC Trained Teacher status, graduates of the Teacher Training are also expected to receive consultation while teaching at least one 8-week MSC program, either by co-facilitating with a certified MSC teacher or through online group consultation offered through the Center for MSC. All Trained Teachers are eligible to be listed on the Center for MSC website in a Directory of Trained Teachers.
Trained Teacher status is a key step toward Certification. Certification is a process of ensuring that an individual has achieved full competency through experience, training and supervision over a period of time and practice. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness offers certification in conjunction with the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. Please see our MSC Certification Pathway if you have further questions about Certification.
The MSC program has been in development since 2009, and a MSC training manual is scheduled for publication in 2017 (Guilford Press). The UCSD Center for Mindfulness will coordinate teacher training in the USA, in collaboration with the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion (www.CenterForMSC.org).
- 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
- Attendance in at least one 5-day silent, teacher-led meditation retreat
- Previous participation in a five-day or eight-week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Training
- Experience teaching meditation in groups, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or in clinical settings
- You do not have to be a clinician to take the MSC Teacher Training
Please Note . . .
- 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. However, you may register for teacher training at any time after you complete the MSC course.
- We strongly recommend that the silent, teacher-led meditation retreat be completed more than two months prior to your attendance at the Teacher Training.
- You do not have to be a mental health clinician to take the MSC Teacher Training.
- Upon completion of the MSC Teacher Training, participants receive a Certificate of Attendance from the Center for MSC stating that he or she has attended the TT in its entirety and can start teaching MSC as a Teacher Trainee.
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
- 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
- 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 MSC program is ideally led by two instructors. This model enables one instructor to monitor the emotional needs of individual participants while the other is teaching. Self-compassion can activate strong emotions, sometimes including relational pain dating back to childhood. We therefore recommend that one of the teachers, or an assistant to the MSC teacher, be a licensed mental health clinician. We realize that some groups may have members with relatively minor emotional needs, or be too small to require two teachers, so please use your own judgment about how to provide a safe and supportive learning environment.
Our ability to teach others depends largely on discovering the power of self-compassion in our own lives and embodying the practice. Since the core principles and practices of the MSC program are taught through experiential learning, participants are encouraged to focus on their felt experience during teacher training. Ample time will also be allocated for professional dialogue and the nuts and bolts of teaching.
The MSC program is a journey—an adventure in self-discovery and self-kindness. Loving-kindness and self-compassion training helps us soothe and comfort ourselves as it paradoxically reveals emotional distress we may have been unconsciously holding inside, often for many years. Therefore, some difficult emotions are likely to surface as we grow in our capacity to embrace them. This is intrinsic to the process of emotional transformation through self-compassion.
Self-compassion thrives in an environment of safety, support, privacy, individual responsibility, and a common commitment to presence and compassion. Self-compassion practice should also be easy and enjoyable. The teacher trainers are dedicated to creating such a learning atmosphere for all workshop participants and their future students.
Continuing Education Credits
This program is sponsored by UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course offers 32.0 hours of credit.
California licensed MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs, LCSWs:
This activity is an approved continuing education program by the American Psychological Association. 32.0 contact hours may be applied to your license renewal through the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. For those licensed outside California, please check with your local licensing board to determine if APA accreditation meets their requirements.
This program is Approved by the National Association of Social Workers (Approval # 886743125-2900) for 29.0 continuing education contact hours.
UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP16351, for 38.25 contact hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
I am flying in for the training. What are my options and what do you recommend?
See our locations page for details about travel to the retreat centers and preferred airports. The UCSD Center for Mindfulness will set up a Ride Share Bulletin Board in coordinating shuttle rides for those arriving by air at local airports.
What time should I plan to arrive? When do we finish?
We will begin checking people into the retreat at 1 pm on the first day of the training. However, it may be possible for you to arrive before 1pm and have access to your room. We ask that you plan on arriving no later than 5pm so that we can begin with the full group in attendance at dinnertime. We plan to end the retreat by 1:00 pm on the last day so please plan your travel accordingly, using the time guidelines above. Sometimes situations arise in which people have to leave the retreat earlier than noon on the last day but we strongly urge you to avoid this if at all possible.
Is there wireless service/cellular phone use?
Please do not expect to get consistent, reliable wireless internet service while at the retreat center. It is most advisable to leave your computer at home because of the retreat nature of the training, however we recognize that sometimes computer use is a necessity. Most cellular phones will work in this location. Again, however given the nature of the training there will be limited opportunities to use them, so informing those who may need to contact you of these limitations ahead of time will be helpful.
Is it possible to stay extra nights at the facility or arrive a day or two early?
The retreat center is often booked both right before and right after our training, so arriving early or staying an extra night or two after the retreat is over is not likely to be a possibility. You can of course arrange to stay at lodging near the retreat center if you would like to extend your stay. Contact us directly at email@example.com to make such arrangements.
What do I need to bring?
If it is at all possible, please bring a meditation cushion (zafu) and a yoga mat. We will have a few cushions but not enough to go around, so if you have one and can squeeze it into your luggage or bring it as a carry-on please consider doing so. It is always advisable to check the weather forecast prior to traveling, to help guide you in proper clothing choices.
The relatively remote location makes security a minor concern, but we do want people to know that with shared sleeping quarters and very limited availability of keys to lock rooms, we highly recommend leaving valuable items at home to reduce the possibility of anything being lost or stolen. Certainly some of us will have vehicles where such items can be secured if this is necessary.
What should I expect regarding the format of the training?
This training is taught in a retreat format, which means there is a great deal of mindfulness practice embedded in the training, and we want to reiterate that now so you are not surprised when you get here. The venue very much facilitates this format; we will will meet, eat and be housed in a relatively secluded area. There are no other large groups planned in the center that week so it should be relatively quiet and secluded. The rooms are clean and comfortable, but not by any means luxurious. and as you probably noted on the website, you will have a roommate. In most cases several of you will share a dorm-style bathroom nearby.
What should I read prior to arriving?
Check the “Schedule and Required Reading” page of the specific training you are registered to attend.
What if I require some special accommodations or have dietary restrictions?
While you are asked to note specific food restrictions on your registration application, if there are any additional food or medical concerns we should be aware of please let us know of these in advance so we may assist you.
What is the tentative schedule for the training?
The tentative schedule is as follows:
Registration: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Dinner: 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
First Session: 6:45 pm – 8:45 pm
Optional Morning Practice: 7:00 am – 8:00 am
Morning Session: 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Lunch: 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Afternoon Session: 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Dinner: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Evening Session: 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Optional Morning Practice: 7:00 am – 8:00 am
Final Session: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Fees & Scholarships
Compassionate Action Scholarship Funds Available for Training programs
Scholarships are available to all potential participants with special circumstances requiring financial assistance in order to attend (ranging from $1000 to $250). (Please note that scholarships are based on personal financial need, separate from being financially over-extended or over-committed.)
Payments and policies:
Partial payments are acceptable; however a non-refundable and non-transferable minimum deposit is due upon registration.
Please be aware that the early-bird rate is available for all participants who register and pay their balance in full by the early-bird deadline (see registration information above). All early-bird rate participants who have a remaining balance on or after the early-bird deadline will have their fees automatically adjusted to the General Session Rate.
All remaining balances must be paid in full 30 days prior to the start of the training or your registration will be cancelled for non-payment and you will not be permitted to attend.
A refund (minus your non-refundable and non-transferable deposit) will be made for cancellations submitted in writing 30 days prior to the training. No refunds will be allowed after that date.
In the unlikely event that the course is cancelled, UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is responsible only for a full refund of the registration fee and not for transportation, hotel accommodations or any miscellaneous expenses.
Upon submission of your registration, you will be provided with a brief essay “Self-Reflection on the Journey of Becoming a Teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion” to read and a link to complete an online MSC Teacher Training Application. This application includes a brief 200-word essay where you can share your reasons for taking the training and your reflections on the essay. These items will be included in your confirmation email.
Your application for this training will not be taken under consideration until the application form has been submitted. Should your qualifications not be accepted for admittance, a full refund will be granted.
Recognizing the societal importance of self-compassion training and the financial realities that many prospective teachers may face, the UCSD Center for Mindfulness is pleased to offer a number of scholarships to attend the Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher Training. The scholarships (ranging from $1000 to $250) are available to all potential participants with special circumstances requiring financial assistance in order to attend. Applicants for the scholarships are asked to register for the training (the initial deposit WILL be refundable for scholarship applicants who do not receive an award) and submit the required essay to firstname.lastname@example.org. The approximately one-page essay should address the following questions:
- Why do you wish to attend this training, and what are the specific financial or other barriers to your attending? (Please note that scholarships are based on personal financial need, separate from being financially over-extended or over-committed.)
- How do you imagine implementing or integrating MSC into your life?
|Scholarship Essay Submission Deadline and Notification of Award|
|Training Dates and Locations||Deadline||Notification of Award
|September 2-8, 2018
|May 2, 2018||May 16, 2018|
|October 20-26, 2018
North Andover, MA
|June 20, 2018||July 5, 2018|
|January 13-19, 2019
Joshua Tree, CA
|September 13, 2018||September 27, 2018|
|May 5-11, 2019
Sautee Nacoochee, GA
|January 5, 2019||January 29, 2019|
Submit essays to the UCSD Center for Mindfulness at email@example.com.
Cultural and Linguistic Competency Statement
California Assembly Bill 1195 requires continuing medical education activities with patient care components to include curriculum in the subjects of cultural and linguistic competency. It is the intent of the bill, which went into effect on July 1, 2006, to encourage physicians and surgeons, CME providers in the state of California, and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to meet the cultural and linguistic concerns of a diverse patient population through appropriate professional development. The planners, speakers and authors of this activity have been encouraged to address issues relevant in their topic area. In addition, a variety of resources are available that address cultural and linguistic competency, some of which are included in your syllabus or handout materials. Additional resources and information about AB1195 can be found on the CME website.
It is the policy of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine to ensure balance, independence, objectivity and scientific rigor. All persons involved in the selection, development and presentation of content are required to disclose any real or apparent conflicts of interest. All conflicts of interest will be resolved prior to an educational activity being delivered to the learners through one of the following mechanisms 1) altering the financial relationship with the commercial interest, 2) altering the individual’s control over content about the products or services of the commercial interest, and/or 3) validating the activity content through independent peer review. All persons are also required to disclose any discussions of off label/unapproved uses of drugs or devices. Persons who refuse or fail to disclose are disqualified from participating in the activity. Participants will be asked to evaluate whether the speaker’s outside interests reflect a possible bias in the planning or presentation of the activity. This information is used to plan future activities.All faculty members listed above have no relevant financial relationships to disclose.The MBPTI staff, meeting planners, planning committee and MBPTI committee reviewers do not have any relevant financial relationships to disclose. The views and opinions expressed in this activity are those of the faculty and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine or University of California, San Diego Medical Center.