The standards below offer a comprehensive and robust set of minimum requirements for members of WAMBA that uphold the ethical standards, promote integrity and uphold transparency for teaching MBSR and MBCT throughout the world.
1. Standards for Teachers of MBSR and / or MBCT who wish to become WAMBA Members
1.1. Commitment to a Personal Practice
Ongoing daily personal formal and informal mindfulness practice is essential. Teachers are expected to do no less than what is asked of participants in relation to formal and informal mindfulness practice. Teachers commit to regular dialogue and supervision around personal meditation practice.
1.2. A teacher of mindfulness-based approaches should have the following:
A. Mindfulness Based Teacher Training
- Familiarity through personal participation with the mindfulness-based course curriculum that they will be learning to teach, with particular in-depth personal experience of all the core meditation practices of this mindfulness-based programme.
- Completion of an in-depth, rigorous mindfulness-based teacher training programme or supervised pathway over a minimum duration of 12 months.
B. Training or background required in addition to mindfulness-based teacher training
- A professional qualification in mental or physical health care, education or social care, or equivalent life experience, recognised by the organisation or context within which the teaching will take place.
- Knowledge and experience of the populations that the mindfulness-based course will be delivered to, including experience of teaching, therapeutic or other care provision with groups and/or individuals, unless such knowledge and experience is provided to an adequate level by the mindfulness-based teacher training itself. An exception to this can be when teaching with the help of a colleague who knows well the population to whom the course will be delivered and has a relevant qualification. They would also need to have an understanding of mindfulness based approaches.
- If delivering MBCT, knowledge of relevant underlying psychological processes, associated research and evidence-based practice, unless these are provided to an adequate level by the mindfulness teacher training programme.
- If delivering MBCT or other mindfulness-based course with a clinical population, an appropriate professional clinical training.
C. Ongoing Good Practice Requirements
- Commitment to a personal mindfulness practice through:
- daily formal and informal practice
- participation in annual residential teacher-led mindfulness meditation retreats with significant periods of silence
- Engagement in processes which continue to develop mindfulness-based teaching practice:
- ongoing contacts with other mindfulness practitioners and teachers, built and maintained as a means to share experiences and learn collaboratively and
- regular supervision with an experienced mindfulness-based teacher including:
- opportunity to reflect on/inquire into personal process in relation to personal mindfulness practice and mindfulness-based teaching practice
- receiving periodic feedback on teaching through video recordings, supervisor sitting in on teaching sessions or co-teaching with reciprocal feedback.
- A commitment to ongoing development as a teacher through further training, keeping up to date with the evidence base, recording and reflecting on teaching sessions, participation in webs forums etc.
- Adherence to the ethical framework appropriate to the teacher’s professional background and working context.
1.3. WAMBA Members Should be Qualified to Teach MBSR and / or MBCT
WAMBA members are expected to adhere to the MBSR and MBCT curricula that they offer and neither add nor remove anything from the original programmes in order to respect the integrity of the curricula.
It is acknowledged that experienced and discerning teachers, may choose to exercise wise judgement to make minor adaptations to the programme(s) as recommended by Kabat-Zinn (2010) who states “There is a great deal of latitude and space built into the MBSR curriculum for the teacher to bring in himself or herself in critical ways, including, where appropriate, new information and practices. That latitude in creativity is essential for the curriculum to come alive”.
The Centre for Mindfulness UMass (2017) states “The essence of the MBSR program is not easily conveyed by a written document. The teaching of MBSR is less about following a class plan and more about a deep and personal experience of mindfulness and a concomitant knowledge and skill in knowing how best to convey the practice of mindfulness in a highly experiential learning environment. The person of the teacher plays a substantive role in this conveyance.”
Teachers need to be aware of the limitations of MBSR and MBCT. Participation in MBSR, MBCT is not a substitute for any necessary medical treatment or psychotherapy.
1.4. Supervision is Required
Supervision is required, either individual or in a group, with a suitably qualified mindfulness supervisor, whilst teaching MBSR or MBCT programmes. The recommended number of hours of one to one supervision is 4 hours as a minimum per MBSR or MBCT programme taught for newly qualified teachers for the first 9 programmes and a minimum of 2 hours per programme for subsequent programmes.
For WAMBA members who are teaching shorter mindfulness programmes, regular supervision is recommended.
It is imperative that WAMBA members offering MBSR or MBCT to participants in a clinical setting have relevant clinical training experience and supervision which is separate to mindfulness supervision.
If a WAMBA member feels s/he is not competent for a certain situation, s/he will inform the participant and refer him/her to a colleague.
When in doubt, a teacher commits to consulting with their supervisor and if necessary a medical or mental health professional.
1.5. Attendance at Retreats is Required
MBSR and MBCT teachers are required to attend silent meditation retreats that reflect and serve as a foundation for MBSR or MBCT. Annual attendance at a 5 -7 days silent, teacher-led residential retreat is necessary to support ongoing best practice. Attending retreats supports the deepening of a teacher’s capacity to embody mindfulness and is essential for competent and ethical teaching.