Frequently Asked Questions
I am in distress, where can I get some help? >
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre is a scientific research centre and staff are unable to give advice or support. We do not have a helpline and can’t give advice on individual mental health problems. If you need to speak to someone, the Samaritans offer emotional support 24 hours a day. Call them free on 08457 90 90 90 in confidence. Otherwise, we recommend that you make an appointment to go and see your GP. You can also find some links to other sites which provide information, advice and support here.
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.
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).
Is 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.
I’m a psychotherapist/counsellor. How can I use mindfulness to benefit my clients? >
Researchers have found that client outcomes are improved when psychotherapists practice mindfulness (Grepmair et al, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, vol 76. No 6, 2007). If you wish to teach MBSR, MBCT or other Mindfulness Based Intervention you need to establish your own mindfulness practice and be properly trained to teach, see: How do I train to teach MBCT.
Is there anywhere I can get some more information about mindfulness? >
Yes, if there is anything you are curious about which is not on our website, please visit ones of the sites listed on our mental health information page.
I have an opportunity for the OMC to participate in some media/interview/PR. Who can I speak to? >
Thank you for thinking of us!
Unfortunately, due to heavy work commitments, we are unable to provide any interviews at present or become involved in any similar projects. We will update the website when we are available for such enquiries again, but unfortunately in the meantime we have to decline.
I am interested in/working with mindfulness. Can I visit the Centre? >
We are not open to visitors.
We are a research based institute so much of what we do is office work. The mindfulness classes on offer take place in our course room at the Centre but people are unable to sit in for training or general interest.
Who works at the centre? Who are the teachers and trainers? >
Please see our People page for information on who works at the Centre.
How do I find the Oxford Mindfulness Centre? >
Please see this page for our contact details including address. We will send detailed travel information when you sign up to one of our courses.
How can I work at the Centre? Can I volunteer? >
There are currently no vacancies but if this changes we will update the website. As a rule we don’t offer short-term placements for work experience, but we do welcome enquiries about longer term projects and collaborations depending on what is happening at the Centre at the time. You can get in touch here.
Do you have any promotional information available? >
If you would like some promotional information about mindfulness and what we do at the centre, please contact us here.
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 at www.bemindfulonline.com but these would most likely be private.
Can I take part in a privately provided MBCT course? >
Yes. The OMC runs MBCT courses which are open to the public. These courses 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. If you live too far from Oxford to be able to get to our MBCT course for the public you may find a course that is suitable for you by going to www.bemindfulonline.com
Does the OMC offer mindfulness courses adapted for the needs of corporate clients? >
Yes. Mindfulness in the Workplace training can help to enhance performance and prevent burn-out. The OMC provides mindfulness courses tailored to the needs of corporate clients using the book “Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic World.”
What is the time commitment in attending an MBSR or MBCT course? >
Both of 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.
Can you sign me up for the next course please? >
To book a place at our 8 week public course, please get in touch here.
Is there a waiting list for full or later courses? >
Unfortunately we are not in a position to reserve places as there is such high demand for classes. Therefore it has to be on a ‘first-come-first-serve’ basis.
As soon as we receive your completed application forms with your payment, you will get an email acknowledging receipt of this. You may write on your form that you would like to receive notice if a place opens up on an earlier course. Again this is on a first-serve basis.
(Each course takes 25 people)
For the Masterclasses, we hold a small waiting list. Please use the form on the Contact Us page to be added to this. Please bear in mind that places do not open up often.
Do you offer course places at a reduced cost? >
There is a small charitable fund available for people wishing to take a course but having financial difficulty. This is worked out on a case-by-case basis. There is information on our Donate page. If you would like to speak to someone about this please use the contact form on our class page
If you find you cannot afford one of our public courses but would like to participate in an MBCT course for depression, you can follow the NHS referral route. You can find the details here. We are also unable to arrange child-minders or taxis for people attending; we ask that you make any arrangements necessary when you know you are attending.
I have questions about the course I want to attend. Can I speak to someone? >
You are welcome to get in touch with us before you apply for a course. We do receive a lot of the same queries so please take a look below before getting in touch. See Popular Class Queries for our most commonly asked questions about our MBCT classes.
If you have questions about training courses, please get in touch here.
If you would like to speak to someone about the public MBCT course, please get in touch here.
Does the OMC offer teacher-training packages to corporate clients? >
Yes, if a corporate body wishes to implement a ‘mindfulness at work’ programme, the OMC can offer mindfulness teacher-training packages to staff. If you’re interested in OMC MBCT teacher-training packages for the NHS or for a private sector body, please submit your inquiry by completing the contact form on the Train to Teach page on our website and one of our team will get back to you.
Popular Class Queries
I cannot make the class. Are there any classes at other times? >
Not at the moment, but we regularly update our website and will list information here if any more classes become available.
What if I want to stop coming to the classes? >
We recommend that you speak to your class teacher if you have any difficulties or concerns at all. You are able to stop coming at any time, but please make sure you have discussed it with us first.
Will the people attending the classes be similar to me? >
People attend the classes for a variety of reasons but most people will be experiencing similar difficulties. The reasons given for attending range from life stress to depression. We do not currently teach MBCT for more complex needs in our public classes.
Will it matter if I need to miss a class? >
We ask all of our participants to practice and attend as much as possible but if you need to miss a class you will still be able to take part. You will have the opportunity to speak to your class teacher before your place is confirmed so please discuss it then to make sure they can accommodate any absence and send you information to keep up-to-date.
Is there any role-playing in the class? Will I have to speak about my experiences? >
No and no. It’s great if people like to talk about their experiences of the meditation practices, indeed this is one of the benefits of being in a group, but no-one expects you to say anything. You will not be asked to role-play or to reveal anything personal!
Training & Teaching Mindfulness
How do I train to teach Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)? >
Please see our Train to Teach page for more information and training guidelines.
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. If you would like to find out about OMC supervision please fill in the contact form on the Train to Teach page and a member of our team will get back to you.
How much CBT knowledge do people need to practice MBCT, and how do I get it? >
It is not necessary to be a cognitive behaviour therapist in order to practise MBCT. However, in order fully to understand the intentions and meaning of the cognitive elements of the programme, it is helpful to have a grasp of how depression is understood within the framework of cognitive therapy and clinical psychology. Equally, if your intention is to use MBCT with people other than those suffering recurrent depression, it would be helpful to understand how these problems too develop, from a cognitive perspective, and how they are maintained by unhelpful patterns of thought and behaviour. Without this contextual knowledge, there is a risk that the cognitive elements of the programme might be delivered mechanically, by rote, and that would-be MBCT teachers will have difficulty in addressing questions and comments from participants effectively. This difficulty is magnified if it is your intention to modify and programme to meet the particular needs of your own client group, and do not have the knowledge to make changes in content which are in line with current cognitive behavioural theory, clinical principle and research. At the very minimum, it is advisable to read core texts such as: Westbrook, D. Kennerley, H. & Kirk, J. (2007) An introduction to cognitive behaviour therapy: Skills and applications. Sage, London. It would be preferable to attend an introductory course to cognitive therapy, for example, the 8-day ‘Introduction to CBT’ offered by the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre (www.octc.co.uk ), or another similar course run by trainers accredited by the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Therapies (www.babcp.com ).”
Can I study for a postgraduate research degree in mindfulness by research? >
At present we are not offering postgraduate degrees by research (Masters or doctorates). When we gain the funding for a Professorship in Mind and Science, degrees by research will be offered. If you wish to be kept informed of developments at the OMC please subscribe to our newsletter, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.