The foundation for teaching MSC is to embody the qualities of mindfulness and self-compassion and to have an ongoing, daily practice. MSC teachers are often deeply moved by the transformation of their participants and honored to share in this transformation. Some say teaching self-compassion makes their personal practice even deeper and more meaningful and feels like a natural extension of self-compassion into the world.
CMSC supports prospective teachers in every step of their journey to becoming a Trained or Certified Teacher, more details of which are given below.
The Teacher Training Pathway
The first step of the teacher pathway is to complete the 6-day residential or 12-week online teacher training course. This training 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.).
If you wish to be granted Trained MSC Teacher status and teach the 8-week, in-person MSC course, you must also complete steps 2-4.
Step 1: 6-Day Residential or 12-Week Online Teacher Training
The Residential Teacher Training is an intensive, 6-day, in-person course 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 the standard 8-week MSC course.
Typical registration fee is $1595 USD (not including room and board).
The Online Teacher Training is run over an extended 12-week period. Itcontains all the same elements as the residential training and, additionally, includes the full MSC course. There are two online sessions per week: one MSC session that is 3 hours, one “teachback” session that is usually 1.75 hours duration.
The registration fee for the online program is $2195.
A list of all upcoming Residential and Online Teacher Training courses can be viewed here.
The standard pre-requisites for taking the MSC Teacher Training are:
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
Previous participation in an 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) course or 5-day Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive. (Live Online MSC does not typically counted as a substitute for an in-person course).*
Attendance in at least one 5-day silent, teacher-led, mindfulness-based meditation retreat. Some MSC silent retreats are listed here, however the retreat does not need to be MSC-based in order to meet the requirement.*
Experience teaching meditation in groups
*Due to the pandemic, we are permitting Live Online MSC and other online versions of the standard 8-week course, to count as a valid pre-requisite for a limited time only. Certain online silent retreats, run by well-established retreat centers and reputable teachers may also count toward the silent retreat pre-requisite, subject to the discretion of the Center for MSC.
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 and give you time to embody the practices of MSC. However, you may register for teacher training at any time after you complete the MSC course.
Other mindfulness-based training programs do not count as a substitute for the standard MSC course pre-requisite.
You do not have to be a mental health clinician to take the MSC Teacher Training
MSC has been in development since 2010 and Teacher Training started in the USA and Europe in 2014. The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion hosts MSC Teacher Training in the US and oversees teacher training through a network of worldwide host organizations including:
MSC Teacher Training is coordinated by CMSC Executive Director and Director of Professional Training, Steven Hickman, in collaboration with program developers Chris Germer and Kristin Neff. The MSC teacher training team also includes a number of other highly experienced, skilled and talented Teacher Trainers.
The TTP is a ten-week, online journey for a group of up to 16 teachers to practice their new-found teaching skills in a safe, structured, online environment facilitated by two Certified MSC Teachers/TTP Trainers. Each week focuses on a single MSC session and all trainees come prepared to teach each session, and are then assigned to lead the various practices, topics and exercises of that session, with periods of feedback and discussion. There is also opportunity to connect beyond the weekly sessions and build a sense of community among teachers.
The TTP provides new teachers with a “laboratory” to find their own voices and to continue to practice what they learned at the Residential Teacher Training, with time between each session to review, prepare and reflect on the process of teaching MSC. The cohort model allows participants the unique opportunity to build an environment of safety and support among colleagues as a source of encouragement and assistance long after the practicum ends.
Once you have been accepted on the Teacher Training program, you will be provided with a link to register for your Teacher Training Practicum. Each weekly session is 2.5 hours duration.
The cost of the Teacher Training Practicum is $995 USD (early-bird fee), $1095 (standard fee).
Step 3: Co-Teach first MSC course with Zoom Consultation
Once teachers have successfully completed the 6-day residential or 12-week online teacher training course and the TTP, they can co-teach their first 8-week MSC course in-person, with simultaneous enrollment in a series of ten, group consultation sessions. The consultations are conducted online, via Zoom and offer a rich opportunity for guidance and support during your first teaching experience. There are up to 6 teachers-in-training present in each session, facilitated by a Teacher Trainer or Senior MSC Teacher.
The cost of Zoom Consultation is $400 USD.
Please note, MSC teacher trainees are only permitted to teach MSC in-person and will therefore need to wait until the lockdown is lifted before commencing this stage of their training journey. Teaching MSC online is a more complex endeavor and only experienced, certified teachers may teach MSC online.
To be eligible for Trained Teacher status at the end of your first teaching/ Zoom consultation experience, please ensure you meet the following requirements:
Your MSC course must have at least 8 registered participants.
You should have a co-teacher and be teaching at least 50% of the course. If no co-teacher is available you should be supported by a General Assistant or Mental Health Assistant.
Your course must be taught in-person, it must follow the MSC curriculum and not be a modification or adaptation of the curriculum.
Step 4: Apply for Trained Teacher status
Once you have completed the steps outlined above, you will be awarded Trained Teacher status. You will receive a Trained Teacher certificate, be listed as a Trained Teacher on the MSC teacher directory and be permitted to teach the 8-week, in-person MSC course independently.
Supporting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging
The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion welcomes applications from people from diverse backgrounds and is committed to creating diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in all of its training programs.
Recognizing the societal importance of self-compassion training and the financial realities that many prospective teachers, especially people from diverse and historically underserved communities may face, we offer a limited number of partial scholarships to attend MSC Teacher Training.
If you identify as a person of color, are a member of historically marginalized or underserved communities, or wish to actively serve these populations and communities, and would like to request a partial scholarship, please state this explicitly (and in some detail) on your application form and we will do our best to support you.
Costs of Becoming a Trained MSC Teacher
When considering the financial investment of becoming a trained MSC teacher, please bear in mind that there are costs associated with each of the three training stages – the teacher training course, the practicum and the consultation sessions.
You may also want to consider additional costs of meeting the standard pre-requisites before being accepted onto the program, such as attending a silent retreat.
An estimated breakdown of costs of the teacher training pathway are outlined below:
6-Day Residential Teacher Training / 12-Week Online Teacher Training – $1595* / $2195 USD
Teacher Training Practicum – $995 USD
Zoom Consultation – $400 USD
*The cost of the Residential Teacher Training does not include room and board.
Scholarships are sometimes available to cover part of the tuition and/or accommodation fees. Scholarship details can usually be found on the individual course page.
Certification is verification of a teacher’s competence whereas the designation of Trained Teacher simply recognizes that a person has completed the requisite training activities. Certification is highly recommended for those who continue to teach on an ongoing basis or wish to teach MSC Intensives or other adaptations.
Trained MSC teachers are eligible to START the pathway towards certification after teaching at least 3 MSC courses, wherein they can do the Collaborative Assessment with an approved MSC Mentor/Teacher Trainer. The process then entails a minimum of 14 hours of individual mentorship over the course of teaching at least two more MSC courses.
"The MSC trainings have softened my inner critic and strengthened my inner champion. I am less anxious about imperfection, and celebrate vulnerability as a strength to meet challenges with courage, to deepen my capacity for joy. The best part is I get to embody it and humbly offer it to others as an MSC Teacher!"