Does Training Matter for Mindfulness Teachers?
Its a wonderful thing that mindfulness is proliferating across the United States – even here in the heartland of the Midwest. More and more opportunities for classes, workshops, and trainings are available to people at all levels of interest and skill. With an increase in the choices available locally, one might wonder, “Do mindfulness instructor credentials matter?” Additional research is needed, but currently the data is showing that instructor training does indeed matter. Studies suggest that a higher level of Mindfulness Based Program teacher training may be linked to higher wellbeing outcomes, lower perceived stress, and greater service satisfaction among participants.
The certificate program through the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness also includes training in trauma sensitivity and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), subjects that at the time of this writing are still often absent from mindfulness teacher training curricula. More people than we might expect have experienced trauma and the likelihood that someone with a trauma history is in the practice space at any given time is relatively high. Teachers can unwittingly contribute to the suffering of their participants who may have trauma related adverse experiences or feel alienated and unwelcome related to insensitive instruction.
Training for mindfulness teachers generally includes participation in the course one wishes to teach, a strong and consistent personal practice including attending teacher led silent mediation retreats, basic and/or intensive teacher training in the course one wishes to teach, mentoring by an approved provider, and a minimum level of teaching experience. Some programs like Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy also require the teacher (or at least one co-teacher) to be a licensed mental health professional.
When choosing a mindfulness class, course or workshop, look closely at the instructor’s credentials and experience. Is there an indication of the above-mentioned qualifications? It can also be helpful to ask about other’s experience with the teacher – are there ratings or testimonials available? Although no amount of credentials or positive reviews can guarantee a good experience, taking the time to do a little research about your teacher will increase the odds that you will make a satisfactory investment of your time, effort and money.
The Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness collects basic training and credentialing information for Trained Mindfulness Teachers (TMT) listed in our professional directory. Take a look if you’re curious about the availability of trained mindfulness teachers in the heartland and what we have to offer. We are also working very hard to bring quality teacher qualification and certification programs to the heartland. Check out our teacher training page for resources.
- Aalderen van, J.R., Breukers, W.J., Reuzel, R.P.B., & Speckens, A.E.M. (2012). The Role of the Teacher in Mindfulness-Based Approaches: A Qualitative Study. Mindfulness, 5(2), 170-178.
- Crane, R., Kuyken, W., Hastings, R.P., Cooper, L. & Fennel, M. (2011). Competence in Teaching Mindfulness-Based Courses: Concepts, Development and Assessment. Mindfulness, 3(1), 76–84.
- Crane, R., Kuyken, W., Hastings, R.P., Rothwell, N., & Williams, J.M.G. (2010). Training Teachers to Deliver Mindfulness-Based Interventions: Learning from the UK Experience. Mindfulness 1 (2), 74-86.
- Grepmair, L., Mitterlehner, F., Loew, T., Bachler, E., Rother, W., & Nickel, M. (2007). Promoting mindfulness in psychotherapists in training influences the treatment results of their patients: A randomized, double-blind, controlled study. Psychotherapy & Psychosomatics, 76 (6), 332-338.
- Kabat-Zinn, J. & Santorelli, S. (2011). Training Teachers to Deliver Mindfulness-Based-Stress Reduction. UK Mindfulness-Based Teacher Trainer Network (2011). Good practice guidelines for teaching mindfulness-based courses. [Fact sheet].