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

“Wise and heartfelt, visionary and thorough, this guide is a rich and practical treasure. The work of Germer and Neff is an invaluable gift for our times.”

– Jack Kornfield,
author of A Path with Heart

Six years in the making, a comprehensive textbook describing the MSC program is now available!

It’s a big book (over 400 pages!) and was written by Chris and Kristin for MSC teachers and for anyone else who would like to integrate self-compassion into their professional activities. The book may be rightly described as a community project insofar as it summarizes all the wisdom that Chris and Kristin have been able to glean from MSC teachers and practitioners around the world since the program began in 2010.

Book Contents

Under one cover, the textbook contains an up-to-date review of the theory and research on self-compassion, a description of the unique pedagogy of MSC (especially the 6 domains of teaching competence), and a complete description of each session in the MSC program. Detailed vignettes illustrate not only how to teach the course’s didactic and experiential content, but also how to engage with participants (sample inquiries follow every practice), manage group processes, and overcome common obstacles. The final section of the book describes how to integrate self-compassion into psychotherapy.

This book was written, in part, so that MSC teachers could point to a single book to provide solid evidence for the value of self-compassion training. To paraphrase the American president Theodore Roosevelt (1900): “Speak softly and carry a big book: you will go far.”

Sharing MSC with the World

Some MSC teachers may worry that we are “giving away the store” with this textbook (and also with the workbook). That is a natural concern, but our operating principle, as Wibo Koole (MSC teacher and business consultant) advises us, is “content creates demand.” In other words, once people know the value of self-compassion, they will want to learn more from skilled teachers. There is an enormous need for self-compassion in the world that will always outstrip our capacity to meet those needs.

As evidence of the great interest in self-compassion, the workbook already has 100,000 copies in print since it was released in August 2019, and it has been translated into 8 different languages. Our hope is that the MSC textbook will be like the “green book” of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and inspire professionals around the world to think more about self-compassion and integrate it into many new areas of life.

Protecting the Quality of Teaching MSC

We are very aware that the workbook and the textbook will increase the possibility that untrained professionals will try to go out and teach MSC without proper training. We write very clearly in the textbook that formalMSC teacher training is required if anyone wants to teach the MSC program itself. The Center for MSC holds the trademark for “MSC” and can enforce this rule.

To reduce that possibility of “bandit” MSC teachers, we wrote the textbook in such a way that it is awkward to teach from the book itself. The MSC Teacher Guide (which is only available to MSC teachers) is still the easiest and more effective tool for teaching MSC in the classroom and the TG is updated annually (whereas the textbook will only be updated in 5-7 years). Furthermore, trained MSC teachers have access to supplementary teaching materials and the support of the community of MSC teachers.

In the textbook, we encourage all professional readers to enroll in an MSC program if they want to teach self-compassion to others. As a result, we expect a surge of interest in MSC training. The readers of the textbook are advised to go to the Teacher Directory on the website of the Center for MSC to find a listing of trained teachers.

Listing in the MSC Teacher Directory

If you are not listed in the MSC Teacher Directory yet, please do so now before the new book is released!

The Teacher Directory is currently the only place where prospective students can check if someone who is teaching MSC is formally trained or not. Please add yourself to the MSC Teacher Directory even if you are not currently teaching a MSC class (but would still like to be identified as a Trained MSC Teacher). It is easy to join the Directory, and Kim Levan is available if you need assistance kim@centerformsc.org.

Currently (and happily!), more than half of all MSC teachers live outside the USA. Our goal is for each language to eventually have their own MSC community website and teacher directory, but until that happens, the Center for MSC will be the main resource for inquiries about MSC. Global interest in MSC will surely increase in the coming years because the forthcoming textbook is already under contract for translation into 4-5 different languages.

Authoritative Text

From now own, Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program will be the authoritative reference book on MSC and it will be distributed to all trainees at MSC Teacher Trainings. We hope that every MSC teacher will be inspired to get their own copy of the textbook to learn about the latest research on self-compassion, to discover how MSC is being taught nowadays (the training is getting better and better!), also to review the most recent updates to the curriculum. Pre-order your copy below.

Pre-order your copy now.

Order your copy now

Table of Contents

Theory, Research and Training

  1. An Introduction to Mindful Self-Compassion
  2. What is Self-Compassion?
  3. The Science of Self-Compassion
  4. Teaching Self-Compassion

On Teaching
Mindful Self-Compassion

  1. Understanding the Curriculum
  2. Teaching Topics and Guiding Practices
  3. Being a Compassionate Teacher
  4. Facilitating Group Process
  5. Engaging in Inquiry


  1. Session 1 – Discovering Mindful Self-Compassion
  2. Session 2 – Practicing Mindfulness
  3. Session 3 – Practicing Loving-Kindness
  4. Session 4 – Discovering Your Compassionate Voice
  5. Session 5 – Living Deeply
  6. Retreat
  7. Session 6 – Meeting Difficult Emotions
  8. Session 7 – Exploring Challenging Relationships
  9. Session 8 – Embracing Your Life

Integrating Self-Compassion into Psychotherapy

  1. MSC and Psychotherapy
  2. Special Issues in Therapy


  1. Ethical Guidelines
  2. Companion Reading
  3. Resources




“This outstanding, inspiring book comprehensively draws together the impressive body of work on the MSC program. The book is deeply personal–the authors share their motivations and process as they embarked on this work–and also offers a big vision for the potential of the practice of self-compassion across cultures, ages, and contexts. The authors ground the writing in a clear overview of the current research evidence. At the heart of the book is crystal-clear guidance on the content and process of MSC. It is an invaluable guide and companion for MSC teachers as well as other professionals who are integrating self-compassion practices in their work.”

–Rebecca Crane, PhD
Director, Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University, United Kingdom

“Our world is crying out for compassion. But compassionate action presupposes self-compassion–an attitude we urgently need to learn, an attitude that can indeed be taught. In this pioneering work, Germer and Neff describe how to teach self-compassion step by step. Professionals who want to introduce self-compassion to their clients to enhance their psychological resilience and emotional well-being will find this book a rich resource.”

–Brother David Steindl-Rast
Cofounder, www.gratefulness.org

“Over the past decade, Germer and Neff have spearheaded a revolution that has spread rapidly around the globe. MSC teaches us to extend compassion to ourselves–instead of simply mindfully witnessing–which can create parallel ripples in how we treat one another. This book describes the tools and techniques that Germer and Neff have developed to teach MSC. I urge you to learn about this approach and join Germer and Neff in helping people change how they relate to themselves.”

–Richard C. Schwartz, PhD
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance

“The innovative approach to self-compassion training pioneered by Neff and Germer is internationally recognized for helping people learn to be kinder to themselves. MSC has set countless people free from the tyranny of hostile self-criticism; consequently, there has been a growing need to understand how to teach the program. Based on years of experience and research, this clearly written, step-by-step book outlines the central features and focus of MSC. It is full of insightful and practical guidance, and will be a source of wisdom for all interested in how to help people bring more compassion to themselves and others.”

–Paul Gilbert, PhD, FBPsS, OBE
Centre for Compassion Research and Training, University of Derby, United Kingdom

“Years of refinement have gone into making MSC the preeminent self-compassion training program, and now its creators have given us a great gift–a text that helps the professional develop an MSC program from the ground up. The book brings us up to speed on the theory and science of self-compassion, guides us through the nuances of teaching it, and presents a detailed session-by-session outline. This well-written resource is essential reading for any helping professional interested in teaching self-compassion.”

–Russell L. Kolts, PhD
Department of Psychology, Eastern Washington University

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