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MSC was originally developed for an 8-week format of 2.5 hours per session, plus a half-day retreat. The curriculum contains multiple teaching components – 34 topics, 3 core meditations, 4 additional meditations, 20 informal practices, and 14 class exercises. Since the program has so many elements, it can (and has) been adapted for different formats and populations.

The standard 8-week MSC program can be emotionally challenging for some participants. This is due to the subject matter which requires participants to connect with personal difficulties, past and present. Everyone is different, but most of us have experienced some trauma in our lives which may resurface during the MSC course. The focus of MSC is compassion, which is a positive, energizing emotion that allows us to meet and transform most of what may arise, but it also important that prospective MSC participants make personal, informed choices about which training is best for their needs.

The following training options are offered to help prospective participants make that choice, and also to assist professionals who wish to refer someone for MSC training.

Please remember that MSC is not a substitute for medical or mental health care. The optimal MSC learning environment is when the participant can move easily between a sense of safety and challenge, and not get overwhelmed. Therefore, each training format is rated on a scale of emotional challenge from 1 (low) to 5 (high).

An Introduction to MSC is typically 1-3 hours in length and covers the meaning of self-compassion, summarizes the research, and provides instruction in one or two self-compassion practices for daily life.  This program might be offered to people who registered for the 8-week MSC course as a way to learn more about the program and decide if they want to continue. It is also offered as a separate event for people who want to learn about self-compassion.

Degree of challenge: 1

View Current Intro Courses

The 1-Day Workshop is typically 6 hours in length. It covers the theory and research of self-compassion, and offers several practices and exercises such as compassionate motivation, working with difficult emotions, and self-compassion for caregivers. A 1-day workshop can be challenging to some people because much information is provided, but the meditation periods also relatively short and therefore less emotionally activating.

Degree of challenge: 2

View Current Intro Courses

The MSC Core Skills program is a 12-hour version of the 24-hour MSC program. The content of a Core Skills program varies depending on the audience, but it usually includes 3 meditations and 4-5 informal practices, plus a review of the theory and research on self-compassion. Participants will get a visceral sense of how self-compassion feels, and they will learn practices for evoking self-compassion in daily life. The Core Skills program is more emotionally challenging than might be expected since it is two full days of experiential learning.

Degree of challenge: 3

View Current Core Skills

MSC was designed to be taught in the 8-week format, and it has been continuously revised to be as safe and effective as possible. Participants in the 8-week program discover the meaning and research base for self-compassion practice, they directly experience mindfulness, compassion and self-compassion, and they learn numerous practices for making mindfulness and self-compassion an integral part of their daily lives.

There is a saying, “Love reveals everything unlike itself.” This means that difficult emotions, including past traumas, may arise while learning self-compassion. Prospective participants should delay taking the 8-week MSC course if they feel emotionally vulnerable or are going through a stressful period in their lives. Feel free to contact the MSC teacher to discuss your situation, as needed.

Degree of challenge: 3

View Current 8-Week Courses

The 5-day Intensive is the full MSC program taught over 5 days: usually one evening, 4 full days, and closing half-day.   Most Intensives take place in residential settings where participants are together the entire time. The main difference between the standard, 8-week MSC program and an Intensive is that the Intensive is 5 days of full immersion, which is likely to offer more depth of experience.  The 8-week program provides more breadth, and is less challenging because participants go home between sessions. An Intensive is a chance to experience the transformative power of self-compassion in a relatively short period of time.

To create an optimal learning experience, Intensives are only taught by Certified MSC Teachers (the highest level of training). Prospective participants should consider in advance whether they ready for an intensive learning experience, especially if they will be able to progress through the course with the rest of the group. If you are uncertain, please contact the teacher for more information.

Degree of challenge: 5

View Current 5-Day Intensives

LOMSC is a good choice for people who would like to explore the entire curriculum from the relative comfort of their own homes. It mirrors the 8-week format but is taught live and online using the Zoom conference platform. Each class is limited to 25 participants, and there is ample opportunity to interact with both teachers and students during the course. LOMSC is ideal for people who do not have access to MSC in their geographical area, who have commitments or mobility issues that make it difficult to leave home, or who have already taken MSC and would like a convenient refresher.

The home learning environment allows participants to easily engage or disengage from what is being taught (compared to the regular 8-week course) which helps the participant to regulate the intensity of their experience. There are also many opportunities to talk with teachers and fellow students, as needed.

Degree of challenge: 3

View Current LOMSC Courses

The CDP program is designed for graduates of MSC. It is also a weekly, live, online course, but it takes place over 8 months in weekly sessions of x hours each. The program follows the sequence of sessions in the regular MSC program, with the addition of some new topics and exercises. It is a wonderful opportunity to integrate mindfulness and self-compassion more deeply into one’s life.

Since CDP is a course for MSC graduates, prospective participants have already experienced the transformative power of self-compassion in their lives and are familiar with ups and downs of the learning process.

Degree of challenge: 2

View Current CDP Courses

PSC is an online course hosted by Sounds True that consists of 8 hours of recorded talks and guided practices by Kristin Neff and Chris Germer. About 1/3 of the MSC curriculum is covered in the PSC course. PSC is offered once or twice per year. There are a number of unique elements in the PSC course: online, group mentoring sessions with senior MSC teachers; a lively Facebook community of fellow course participants; a private, online workbook and a personal journal; and a visual dashboard that allows you to see what you have done in the course and what lies ahead.

PSC is particularly suited for people who want to experience the highlights of MSC on a flexible schedule. (PSC is also less expensive than other MSC programs.) However, since there is less interaction among teachers and students in the PSC course, participants should carefully attend to their own safety and comfort and avail themselves of support by mentors and fellow participants.

Degree of challenge: 2

View Current PSC Courses

The gentlest way to learn MSC is by picking up the MSC workbook and allocating 30 minutes per week to each chapter. The workbook contains most of the content of the MSC course, in the same sequence, plus some additional topics and practices.  Guided recordings of most of the meditations and informal practices can be downloaded from the Guilford Press website. Participants are advised to read and practice with the book to the extent that they feel happy and comfortable.

Degree of challenge: 1

Purchase the MSC Workbook

This is a great place for a good, prominent quote summarizing the personal benefit of learning self-compassion.