Archives for May 2019

Spanish Teacher Guide Now Available in Braille / Disponible la Primera Guia del Profesor en Braille

English:

For the very first time the MSC Teacher’s Guide is available in Braille-Spanish for those teachers who are blind. Thanks to the initiative of Mariela de la Fuente, first certified teacher of the MSC in Argentina who has organized the first Teacher Training in Latin America, and Ana Clara Fernández.

The idea arose when Dr. Mónica Santagata, a visually impaired medical doctor in Argentina, enrolled in the MSC Teacher Training and we thought about how we could provide the TG so that she could use it. It was when Mariela contacted Ana Clara (formed in the Braille system and founder and editor of the magazine Colors, free and printed completely in Braille system since 2004) and she has translated the Spanish version of the TG into Braille in record time and for free as a donation to the Center for MSC. And as a curiosity, The Spanish Braille MSC TG occupies 9 volumes of perforated paper!

Ana Clara comments that the fact of translating the text has meant for her a true internal transformation. And for us it has been exciting to live the experience of giving it to Monica who was touched by all that work. Once again, inclusion and respect for diversity are the hallmarks of MSC program and community. Thank you so much, Ana Clara, Mariela and Monica. Now more people can teach the MSC! And we really hope that this initiative can also be carried out in other languages.

Spanish:

Gracias a la iniciativa de Mariela de la Fuente, primera profesora certificada del MSC en Argentina que ha organizado el primer Teacher Training de Latinoamérica, y de Ana Clara Fernández, por primera vez está disponible la guía del profesor en Braille para aquellos profesores que tienen dificultades de visión.La idea surgió cuando se apuntó a la formación de profesores la Dra. Mónica Santagata, médico argentina, casi invidente, y pensamos en cómo podíamos facilitarle la guía del profesor para que pudiera utilizarla. Fue cuando Mariela contactó con Ana Clara (formada en el sistema Braille y fundadora y directora de la Revista Colores, gratuita e impresa completamente en sistema desde el 2004) y ella ha traducido la versión española de la TG al Braille en un tiempo record y de forma gratuita como donación al Center for MSC. Y como curiosidad, comentar que ocupa ¡9 volúmenes de papel perforado!

Ana Clara comenta que el hecho de traducir el texto ha supuesto para ella una verdadera transformación interna. Y para nosotros ha sido emocionante vivir la experiencia de entregárselo a Mónica que se conmovió por todo el trabajo realizado. Una vez más, la inclusión y el respeto a la diversidad son las señas de identidad de nuestro programa. Gracias, Ana Clara, Mariela y Mónica. Ahora las personas invidentes pueden enseñar el MSC. Ojalá que también se pueda realizar esta iniciativa en otros idiomas.

Your MSC Teaching Toolkit: What to Use and Why 

This year, we have been busy making exciting improvements to the essential and recommended MSC teaching materials. We would like to update you on these important changes to make sure that you are providing the most accurate and up-to-date resources to your MSC participants.

Handout Booklet

The Handout Booklet is the essential resource for MSC participants during the 8-week course, to be used in conjunction with the MSC Workbook. Revised in January 2019, the Handout Booklet is a slimmer version of its predecessor and has just received a shiny, new makeover. Reduced from 57 to 20 pages this should cut printing costs considerably and is free to download on Power School Learning here.

Download the handout booklet.

The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook

The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook was published in 2018 and is highly recommended as a companion to the MSC course and as a supplement to the Handout Booklet. Participants should be encouraged to buy the workbook for the MSC course or teachers can provide it for them and add a little surcharge to the course fee. The workbook was designed for home study and practice and not for use in the classroom itself. Some of the reported benefits to participants include: 

  • supplements what is learned in class
  • reduces the need to take notes
  • helps prepare for class
  • easy to review a missed session
  • supports home practice

Purchase at a 20% Discount.

 

The MSC Teacher Guide

The MSC Teacher Guide (English language) was also revised in Jan 2019. The basic structure of the MSC program has remained that same as the old 2017 edition. However, there were many changes to the wording of the various topics, practices and exercises to make the program easier to teach and easier for students to understand precisely what we are doing and why. This edition now also includes essential CMSC policies and procedures. If you haven’t already purchased your copy, we recommend doing so here.

Purchase the most recent TG

Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program: A Guide for Professionals

Due for release on August 15, this is a comprehensive resource for the MSC program, including the latest research on self-compassion, fine points of pedagogy, and the complete curriculum. The book will be essential reading for all new MSC teachers and will replace the Teacher Handbook that is currently distributed at Teacher Trainings (English language only, until translations are published).

You can pre-order your copy from Amazon or Guildford Press, with a 20% discount for MSC teachers. https://www.guilford.com/mscw-teachers. In the meantime, you can access the new Teachers Handbook on Power School Learning here.

Purchase at a 20% Discount.

El Center for MSC presenta la primera mejora importante en el itinerario de formación de profesores de MSC

Programas piloto TTP (Prácticas de Formación de Profesores) que se ofrecerán a los profesores existentes en otoño de 2019

Desde el primer Teacher Training del MSC a principios de 2014, el itinerario para convertirse en profesor del programa se ha mantenido básicamente igual y nos ha servido bien a medida que el Center for MSC ha crecido y el MSC se ha expandido en todo el mundo. Con este modelo, hemos entrenado a más de 2100 personas en cinco idiomas con gran éxito. Pero, como sabemos, enseñar autocompasión es desafiante y complejo, y nuestro equipo de capacitadores de docentes busca constantemente formas de aportar más calidad a la docencia, a los profesores, así como formas de preparar mejor a las nuevas promociones para el gratificante rol de ser un maestro de MSC .

Basándonos en nuestra experiencia colectiva de capacitar a tantas personas y apoyarte en tu desarrollo como profesor, estamos implementando un paso completamente nuevo en el proceso de convertirte en un Profesor de MSC Capacitado (Trained MSC Teacher). A partir de principios de 2020, todos los que asistan a un MSC Teacher Training deberán participar posteriormente en nuestras nuevas Prácticas de Formación de Profesores(TTP- Teacher Training Practicum) en encuentros on-line de 10 semanas para prepararlos para su primera enseñanza “en vivo” de un programa MSC. Por lo tanto, el itinerario para convertirse en un Profesor Capacitado de MSC será a partir de 2020: 1) asistir al Teacher Training residencial de 7 días; 2) completar las Prácticas de Formación del Profesorado (TTP); y 3) enseñar tu primer curso “en vivo” mientras participas en las diez sesiones de Consulta de Zoom (este último paso es idéntico a como se requiere actualmente).

Sabemos por experiencia que a menudo se puede sentir algo de vértigo al pasar de hacer un Teacher Training, hasta enseñar un primer curso de MSC de 8 semanas. El Practicum servirá como una oportunidad para tener un primer tiempo de enseñanza, pero compartida con tus compañeros y con el apoyo de los capacitadores del TTP antes de dirigir tu primer curso. Si has hecho el Teacher Training hace ya algún tiempo, puedes encontrar en las Practicas de Formación de Profesores, una buena manera de “acomodarte en tu asiento” como profesor de MSC y sentirte mucho más preparado.

El nuevo TTP ha sido desarrollado y diseñado por los instructores de profesores (Teachers Trainers) Marta Alonso, Michelle Becker, Mila DeKoning, Beth Mulligan, Tina Gibson, Ali Lambie y Steve Hickman, con la intención específica de brindar oportunidades para que los profesores en formación (Teachers In Training) comiencen a practicar su nuevas habilidades de enseñanza entre sí en un entorno seguro, estructurado y on-line, compuesto por 15 compañeros más de la formación de profesores y dos formadores especializados en el TTP. Cada sesión semanal de 2.5 horas de la práctica se centrará en una sola sesión de MSC y se asignará a los participantes el dirigir las diversas prácticas, temas, ejercicios e indagación de esa sesión, con períodos de feedback y discusión, así como oportunidades para interactuar durante la semana como grupo on-line. También habrá oportunidades para que los participantes interactúen y reflexionen entre sesiones y puedan practicar la enseñanza entre ellos.

La práctica proporcionará a los nuevos profesores un “laboratorio” para encontrar sus propias voces y continuar practicando lo que aprendieron en la formación residencial de 7 días, con tiempo entre cada sesión para revisar, preparar y reflexionar sobre el proceso de enseñanza de MSC. Cada sesión, que se lleva a cabo con la plataforma Zoom, brindará a los participantes la oportunidad de practicar la enseñanza de los componentes básicos de MSC y recibir feedback, tanto de los compañeros como de los capacitadores, de forma constructiva y amable en un ambiente seguro y sin prejuicios. Este modelo de cohorte brinda a los participantes la oportunidad única de crear un ambiente de seguridad y apoyo entre colegas que el CMSC espera que continúe siendo un recordatorio de la humanidad compartida y una fuente de aliento y apoyo mucho después de que finalice la práctica.

El Prácticum (TTP) se ofrece desde ahora a los profesores actuales por un precio con descuento en los programas piloto de Otoño de 2019.

Si bien aquellos que ya han completado el Teacher Training del MSC, no están obligados a realizar el Practicum, creemos que muchos de vosotros estaréis interesados ​​en esta experiencia. Por esta razón, estamos ofreciendo un “ensayo piloto” del TTP en el otoño de 2019 que está abierto a cualquier persona que haya completado el Teacher Training sea Teacher in Training o Trained MSC Teacher. Uno de esos programas será en español.

Tenemos tres grupos de capacitadores que han programado el TTP a partir de octubre y actualmente estamos haciendo la lista de personas interesadas en participar en esos grupos. A partir de 2020, la práctica de 10 semanas se ofrecerá por $ 995 (US) y será obligatoria para todos los nuevos profesores, pero los próximos programas se ofrecerán por solo $ 550. De manera que esta es realmente una oportunidad única y asequible para afinar y profundizar en tus habilidades de enseñanza de MSC.

Estas son las prácticas programadas de otoño:

En español:

Marta Alonso (entrenadora sénior de prácticas) y Mariela de la Fuente (capacitadora de prácticas)

14:00 UTC los martes (16:00 hora española peninsular)

A partir del 15 de octubre; Finalizando el 17 de diciembre

En inglés:

Ali Lambie (Senior Practicum Trainer) y Zoe Shobbrook-Fisher (Practicum Trainer)

1400 UTC los jueves

A partir del 3 de octubre (no hay sesión el 31 de octubre); Finalizando el 12 de diciembre

Tina Gibson (Senior Practicum Trainer) y Anna Friis (Practicum Trainer)

2200 UTC los martes

A partir del 8 de octubre; Finalizando el 10 de diciembre

Cuando el TTP se inicie formalmente en 2020, se dará prioridad a aquellos que hayan completado recientemente el Teacher Training, por lo que es posible que desees considerar seriamente inscribirte en uno de estos Practicum ahora para asegurarte la oportunidad. Para expresar tu interés, sigue este enlace a una página de SignUp Genius donde puedes indicar a cuál de los tres grupos de prácticas deseas unirte. En breve te contactaremos con más detalles e instrucciones.

El CMSC se complace en agregar este nuevo paso importante a MSC Teacher Training Pathway y ya hemos escuchado comentarios positivos de muchos de vosotros con quienes hemos compartido esta idea. Si tienes preguntas o comentarios sobre el TTP, no dudes en comunicarte con Steve Hickman, Director Ejecutivo de CMSC y Director de Formación Profesional, en steve@centerformsc.org

Monthly Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy Peer Consultation Session Launched

MSC Teachers who are also therapists now have two new monthly opportunities to come together monthly to share how we use and apply MSC and self-compassion in one-to-one therapy, and to also share our challenges, observations and breakthroughs.  We hope the discussion will include the many ways we can bring MSC into individual sessions. For example, the parts of the program we adapt to use, teaching specific skills explicitly, adapting flexibly in our interactions, and using MSC to support ourselves in the therapy hour. We’ll start with a soft landing and ask people to share experiences or cases.

Sessions begin June 4, and if you wish to attend, please proceed to the SignUp Genius page to indicate your interest in joining. You will receive an email prior to the first sessions, asking you to complete a very brief online confidentiality agreement, and then you can log on to either or both of the sessions.

Option 1
facilitated by John Julian and Linda Hamilton
Tuesdays, 2200 UTC | 6:00 pm Eastern
0800 June 5 Australian EDT
Zoom link

Option 2
facilitated by Ben Weinstein and Cori Rosenthal
Tuesdays, 1400 UTC | 10:00 am Eastern
Zoom link

 

Please note: If there is interest, we will add additional sessions in other languages or at other times. If you would be interested in hosting a session in another language or at another time, please contact CMSC Executive Director Steve Hickman at steve@centerformsc.org to express your interest.

CMSC Unveils First Major Enhancement of MSC Teacher Training

—✦—

Since the first MSC Teacher Training in early 2014, the pathway for becoming a teacher of MSC has stayed basically the same and has served us well as CMSC has grown and MSC has expanded across the globe. We have trained over 2,100 people in five languages with this model, with great success. But as you know, teaching self-compassion is challenging and complex, and our team of teacher trainers are constantly looking for ways to better support you, the teachers, and ways of better preparing new teachers for the rewarding role of being a teacher of MSC.

Based on our collective experience of training so many people and supporting you in your development as teachers, we are implementing a brand-new step into the process of becoming a Trained MSC Teacher. Beginning in early 2020, everyone who attends MSC Teacher Training will be required to subsequently participate in a 10-week online Teacher Training Practicum (TTP) to prepare them for their first “live” teaching of MSC. That “live” teaching will be in conjunction with the ten Zoom consultation sessions, and only after all three of these steps have been completed, will people be deemed a “Trained MSC Teacher.”

We know from experience it can often feel like a big step from taking the MSC Teacher Training to actually teaching a first course. The TTP Practicum will provide additional TTP Trainer support in advance of leading your own first course.

The new TTP has been developed and designed by Teacher Trainers Marta Alonso, Michelle Becker, Mila DeKoning, Beth Mulligan, Tina Gibson, Ali Lambie and Steve Hickman, with the specific intention of providing opportunities for teachers-in-training to begin to practice their new-found teaching skills with each other in a safe, structured, online environment comprised of 15 fellow teachers-in-training and two TTP Trainers. Each week of the practicum will focus on a single MSC session and the trainees will be assigned to lead the various practices, topics and exercises of that session, with periods of feedback and discussion, as well as opportunities to interact during the week online as a group.

The practicum will provide new teachers with a “laboratory” to find their own voices and to continue to practice what they learned in Teacher Training, with time between each session to review, prepare and reflect on the process of teaching MSC. Each session, held over Zoom, will give participants an opportunity to practice teaching core components of MSC, and receive gentle constructive feedback in a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere. The cohort model allows the participants the unique opportunity to build an environment of safety and support among colleagues that CMSC hopes will continue to be a reminder of common humanity and a source of encouragement and assistance long after the practicum ends.

While those who have already completed MSC Teacher Training are not required to complete the Practicum, we believe many of you would be interested in such an experience. For this reason, we are offering a “pilot run” of the TTP in the fall of 2019 that is open to anyone who has completed Teacher Training, including one practicum in Spanish.

We have three sets of trainers who have scheduled practica starting in October and we are currently assembling a signup list of people interested in participating in those groups. Starting in 2020, the 10-week practicum will be offered for $995 (US), but the upcoming programs will be offered for only $550. This is truly a unique and affordable opportunity to sharpen and deepen your MSC teaching skills.

Upcoming Autumn 10-week Practica:

▸ Option 1 (English):
Ali Lambie (Senior Practicum Trainer) and Zoe Shobbrook-Fisher (Practicum Trainer)
Thursdays, Oct. 3-Dec. 12, 2019
1400 UTC
(No session on 31 October)

▸ Option 2 (English):
Tina Gibson (Senior Practicum Trainer) and Anna Friis (Practicum Trainer)
Tuesdays, Oct. 8-Dec. 10, 2019
2200 UTC 

▸ Option 3 (Spanish):
Marta Alonso (Senior Practicum Trainer) and Mariela de la Fuente (Practicum Trainer)
Tuesdays, Oct. 15-Dec. 17, 2019
1400 UTC

Express Your Interest Here

 

When the TTP formally begins in 2020, priority will be given to those who have recently completed Teacher Training, so you may want to seriously consider signing up for one of these practica now to assure that you get the opportunity. Express your interest here and indicate which of the three practica you would like to join. You will be contacted shortly with further details and instructions.

CMSC is excited to add this new important step to the MSC Teacher Training Pathway and we have heard positive feedback from many of you with whom we have shared this idea. If you have questions or comments about the TTP, please feel free to contact Steve Hickman, Executive Director of CMSC and Director of Professional Training, at steve@centerformsc.org

Please note: CMSC plans to ultimately offer the practicum in all our official languages and discussions are underway with our colleagues around the globe to arrange this as we can. We will announce additional language programs as they become available.

Unearthing Me:
A Psychologist’s Journey with Self-Compassion

by Dr. Jennifer Ayres

Psychologist and MSC Graduate

May 9, 2019

Several years ago, I hung a painting on the wall in my office. It is a picture of beautiful purple flowers that peek in and out of a white lattice trellis. A butterfly sits on one of the flowers. A family medicine intern painted it for me as a thank you gift. She followed me into my office after our weekly support group one day and bravely shared a painful experience, her doubts about her worthiness to be a doctor, her identity struggle from medical student to doctor, and her humanity. I helped her find self-compassion at a time she needed it.

—✦—

I work in a primary care clinic, and last month my clinic moved across town. Although I had several months of notice, I remained in denial and avoidant. This move would result in many changes for me. A longer commute. Less flexibility with scheduling patients. Way less personal space.

Between the defense mechanisms and the daily work demands, it was not surprising that a week before our move, I found myself in a procrastination-induced, office-packing crisis. I started going through my stuff, literally and metaphorically.

It was easy to handle the “top layer” stuff. The stuff that I grab on a regular basis to help patients gain insight or family medicine residents gain a broader understanding of human behavior. The books I read to center myself after a particularly challenging encounter. These items would join me in the next chapter. They were packed in boxes with my name and the new office number.

The “middle layer” stuff was more challenging. What do I do with things that I don’t need or use often but reference occasionally or might need in the future? Notes from old conferences, programs I developed but don’t do currently, artwork from patients I no longer see, notes and cards from ex-residents. I evaluated those emotionally, then objectively, then ultimately discarded, photographed or packed in “not sure what do with this yet” boxes.

The “bottom layer” stuff was the most challenging. Some of it was part of my very first therapy office when I started a postdoctoral fellowship in 2000. Bottom-layer stuff evokes a sense of flipping through a high school yearbook or a childhood treasure box. The items themselves serve very little practical purpose to current life except to remind us who we were before we became who we are. I smiled once I got to the bottom layer stuff.

I’d forgotten how much I liked the woman who years ago would have packed those items in the top layer box.

Two highlights of the bottom layer. One was the Candy Land game that I pulled from the filing cabinet. Nine-year-old Ben (not his real name), one of my first therapy patients, gave it to me — the only Hanukkah present I have ever received. Ben had Asperger’s syndrome, which impaired his ability to communicate and connect with people, including me. One day he and his mother were shopping. He pointed to the Candy Land and said “Dr. Ayres doesn’t have that game. She would like it. I think we should get it for her for Hanukkah.”

It was the first time he indicated thinking about anyone else outside of the structured social skills development exercises we did in session. And he was correct. I didn’t have the game and I did like it. So did he. We played it every week until I left that job three years later. By the time I was ready to move to Austin for my current job four years later, the box lid was crumpled by use. I taped it up and moved it across the country. As the box continued to disintegrate, I purchased a newer version to use in therapy sessions and my Hanukkah gift became a treasured museum piece.

I spent a lot of time looking at that box and the replacement version that never became a velveteen rabbit. I put it aside until I had a solution. It was a visual, tactile reminder of a special connection with Ben, and who I was when I was new to the field. I ultimately removed the cards and board from Ben’s game, put them in the 2008 version, and cut the “Candy Land!” box edge from my Hanukkah present. The game pieces and cards are in the new office, waiting for an enthusiastic child to select that activity.

I also found my journal from the intern support groups I led during my first four years. We started every support group with a 10-minute journaling exercise to gently transition from one task to another. I started reading the early entries. I was struck by the simultaneous familiarity of my voice from a decade ago and the foreignness of it.

I looked up from reading the journal and saw the painting. I thought about that beautiful, human, hurting intern and her bravery to share her vulnerable truth that Monday afternoon so long ago.

Neither of us could have predicted how successful she would become over her three years of training, that she would be known for her depths of compassion and honored with a leadership award at her graduation.

As I Iooked at the painting, I reflected on how much more I knew about self-compassion now than I did that day I talked to her. I hadn’t had training in Mindful Self-Compassion. My guidance was more reflective of a therapist’s understanding of the interconnectedness of thoughts, feelings and behaviors than self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. But yet, it was the basic tenets of self-compassion that I pulled into that conversation as I helped her consider an alternative perspective to her critical self-talk. I thought about how natural it felt to guide others, particularly vulnerable new doctors, to self-compassionate self-talk and how difficult it is to direct those same reflective questions to myself when I need them the most.

I decided in that moment that this transition would differ from previous ones because I would use my self-compassion to set clear guidelines.

These were the guidelines:

▸ I will make space for whatever feeling arises.
▸ My feelings will take as long as they need.
▸ I will search for common humanity when I feel isolated.
▸ I will remember that others hold a safety net underneath me. If I fall, they will catch me.
▸ I will not choose to carry this burden alone. I will accept help and support by sharing my feelings instead of guarding them.

—✦—

Fast forward to present day, four weeks later. I did make space for the gamut of emotions. I cried a lot and worried a lot.

I worked through guilt about self-compassionate schedule changes and boundary setting. I was kind to myself during the process and pushed back when the internal critic arose to offer well-intended, but emotionally minimizing, commentary. I attended our Tuesday night CDP meetings and talked about how hard it is to have a self-compassion practice when it is desperately needed.

A colleague asked me last week how long she can play the “my clinic just moved and I’m still adjusting” card. I told her I don’t think adjustment cards have an expiration date. They simply disappear when they are no longer needed. I had several adjustment cards about this move but now I’m down to one – the “not sure what to do with this yet” boxes are still in my living room and on my dining room table. My children, our dog and I navigate around them as I await the “now I know what to do.”

I trust the wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet when he told a young poet to live the questions and trust that the answers will be revealed when they are ready to be lived.

—✦—

The intern’s painting hangs in the shared office. I look at it often on the two days I inhabit the new space. It is a visual reminder to find self-compassionate grace for the person I am now while I’m developing into the person I am not yet.

About Jennifer:
Jennifer L. Ayres, PhD is the director of behavioral health services at the Blackstock Family Health Center. She is an assistant professor of population health for Dell Medical School and a clinical assistant professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. She oversees behavioral health education for family medicine residents and psychology trainees, conducts outpatient psychotherapy and does inpatient psychology consultations at Dell Seton Medical Center.

Ayres has a bachelor’s degree from Emory University, a master’s degree from the University of North Texas and a doctorate in clinical psychology from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. After her graduation, she moved to the Los Angeles area for a postdoctoral fellowship in child abuse and trauma. She worked as a trauma psychologist in Los Angeles for seven years before returning to Texas and settling into her current position.

Mindful Self-Compassion benefits health care providers, especially those lacking in self-compassion

Chaplain, Trained MSC Teacher, and founder of the
Center for Resiliency at Dell Children’s Medical Center

Burnout in the healthcare profession today is over 50% in some regions of the world with many physicians and nurses leaving the profession. The rate of suicide among physicians in the United States is double the national average for professionals in comparable fields. While traditional forms of meditation have been proven to improve stress and overall well-being, many healthcare professionals do not practice consistently, if at all, and many report that meditation as “too touchy-feely” or “too time-consuming.”

Mindful Self-Compassion, which includes meditation, also offers tools and practices that can be accessed quickly DURING the experience of suffering alongside patients and families, when the healthcare professional cannot step away to attend to their own self-care.

Additionally, in the trauma-inducing profession of healthcare, Mindful Self-Compassion directly addresses backdraft, encouraging the tentative healthcare provider to move slowly into awareness and emotional availability, especially since the healthcare profession has traditionally taught individuals to compartmentalize such emotions. More specifically, healthcare professionals — while quick to recognize the suffering of their patients and families — are very slow to identify their own personal suffering, even hesitating to use the word “suffering” in reference to their own experience.

For the past three years, Dr. Kristin Neff and I, along with two PhD candidates and MSC trained teachers, Marissa Knox and Phoebe Long, partnered to research the viability of an abbreviated version of the 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion course with healthcare professionals. The central question was whether an abbreviated version with much of the meditation taken out would show any effect for this group of people who so desperately needed tools to cope with their own suffering. We conducted a randomized-controlled trial of a brief, six-week (one hour per week) Mindful Self-Compassion training for health-care professionals to evaluate its effectiveness. We compared a group who took the training to a waitlist control group in terms of self-compassion, mindfulness, compassion for others, compassion satisfaction, depression, anxiety, and stress.

While those who did not receive the curriculum showed no change, the intervention group experienced significant increases in self-compassion, mindfulness, compassion for others, compassion satisfaction, and decreases in stress, with all gains being maintained three months later.

Pre-existing levels of self-compassion moderated the effect of the intervention, so that those initially low in self-compassion experienced greater gains in this trait and also significantly decreased levels of depression. Additionally, results indicated that increases in self-compassion helped explain the effectiveness of the intervention, so that increased self-compassion mediated changes in mindfulness, depression, anxiety and stress. In summary, the research results suggest that brief training in Mindful Self-Compassion may have beneficial effects for health care providers, especially for those lacking in self-compassion.

Anecdotally, we have been hearing things like, “This course changed my life.” “I was planning to leave medicine before taking this course.” After the practice Soften, Soothe, Allow was introduced, a trauma surgeon said,

“I now understand what is underneath my overall stress…. I am angry …or I am grieving …or I am sad. Now that I know that, I can do something about it instead of projecting it on other people or thinking that I can compartmentalize it away.”

Last winter, I ran into one of the physicians in the hallway who had been through the course a few months earlier. I asked her where she had been since I had not seen her in a while. She said, “I know. I don’t live here (aka the hospital) anymore. I have a life now and am enjoying my daughter. I never thought that would be possible as a physician.” We talked about how the course had changed the way she thinks about herself, which gave her the tools to make the behavioral changes that she needed and wanted to support the core values she was now identifying.

In my experience, having been at the bedside with patients and families and staff for most of my 25-year career as a hospital chaplain, this brief intervention opens up healthcare professionals to an entirely new world, gently and practically, making a robust tool more accessible to a group of people who desperately need language and tools to cope with their daily experiences of suffering. It is not something that is taught to them in their traditional educational process, yet is something they must learn if they are to endure the level of suffering they experience in the healing professions so they can live meaningful and whole human lives.