Course FAQs

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a translation of a word that simply means awareness. It’s direct, intuitive knowing of what you are doing while you are doing it.  It’s knowing what’s going on inside your mind and body, and what’s going on in the outside world as well. Most of the time our attention is not where we intend it to be. Our attention is hijacked by our thoughts and emotions, by our concerns and desires, by our hopes or worries for the future, and our memories and regrets FROM the past. Mindful awareness is about learning to pay attention, in the present moment, and without judgement. It’s like training a muscle – training attention to be where you want it to be.

How do I get referred onto an MBCT course?

If you are provided for by the Oxford NHS Foundation Trust you can be referred by your GP. If you have depression or anxiety related problems and you have had two previous treatments (including self-help), you may be referred to Psychological Services for and assessment to join an MBCT course. If your NHS Trust is not the Oxford NHS Foundation Trust you will need to ask your GP about what is available for you in your area, or you can look for courses near you but these would most likely be private.

What’s the difference between Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)?

MBSR was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, in the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It applies insight meditation techniques, which have a Buddhist psychological framework in a secular format. MBCT for recurrent depression was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale. MBCT for recurrent depression represents an evolutionary development of MBSR within a cognitive scientific theoretical framework. It has proven effective in clinical trials for preventing serious recurrent depression and is approved and recommended in the UK by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

What is the time commitment in attending an MBSR or MBCT course?

Both these interventions have a similar 8-week format. There is a weekly class of two to two and a half hours and participants also make a commitment to do around an hour practice during the other six days in the week. There is also an all-day practice towards the end of the course.

Is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) only used to treat recurrent depression?

No. MBCT may be adapted for a number of needs based on the psychological understanding of specific groups of participants or can be adapted for groups with a wide range of reasons for learning mindfulness skills. Our MBCT courses, which are open to the general public, will be useful for people who suffer from recurrent depression, who find that the stress of their lives is creating chronic unhappiness, exhaustion, anxiety and burn-out, as well as people who wish to develop a mindfulness practice to enhance their lives in a variety of ways.

Is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) more effective than Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)?

MBSR was originally developed and used with a range of people who had chronic pain and stress. Both MBSR and MBCT have since been adapted for specific kinds of psychological challenges. No studies have been done to compare the effectiveness of MBSR and MBCT for different groups of people.

Can I teach Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) if I don’t have a background in a caring profession or clinical qualifications?

If you teach MBCT to people for whom you have clinical responsibility, you must be qualified to manage your clinical responsibility. This means that you will only be able to teach MBCT for recurrent depression if you have the clinical qualifications to manage clients who have been diagnosed with recurrent depression.
If you don’t have a clinical qualification or a background in a caring profession you may teach MBCT adapted to the specific field in which you work, when you (the mindfulness teacher) do not have clinical responsibility for the participants. See the Good Practice Guidance.

Do I need to have a personal mindfulness practice to teach Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)?

Teaching MBCT must be grounded in your own practice. This is essential and it cannot be called MBCT without this requirement. Many MBCT teachers are clinicians or members of caring professions, who have developed an interest in mindfulness as a result of finding out about Mindfulness Based Interventions through their work. Clinicians or members of a caring profession who become MBCT teachers normally develop their own mindfulness practice by first attending an 8-week course. They will continue to develop their personal mindfulness practice while training to teach MBCT.

Can I train to teach MBCT if I have a mindfulness practice but don’t have recognised clinical qualifications?

Yes. People who have an established mindfulness meditation practice, but do not have a recognised clinical qualification may train to become MBCT teachers; however the Masters programme generally expects applicants to have a clinical background. If you wish to find out about training to teach MBCT please see FAQ “How do I train to teach Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)?” above.

Do I need to have supervision if I’m teaching Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)?

Yes. Supervision from an experienced MBCT teacher is required to maintain standards of teaching and to support MBCT teachers’ professional development. Please look at the The Mindfulness Network website for further information.