Mindfulness is about being in the moment, about truly focusing on the present. When we are mindful, we are aware of the sights and sounds around us, as well as the thoughts and feelings within us. While mindfulness practices have existed in various forms for thousands of years, it has only been in the last few decades that extensive research has been done, demonstrating that consistent mindfulness practices can provide benefit for people suffering from a variety of physical, as well as emotional, ailments. In addition, dedicated mindfulness practice by practitioners has been shown to increase compassion, improve clinical outcomes and reduce burnout.
This certificate program will introduce you to the four primary therapeutic models of mindfulness: mindfulness based stress reduction, mindfulness based cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and dialectical behaviour therapy. You’ll explore how these models can be used when working with clients in a variety of settings and be introduced to other mindfulness applications, such as self-compassion and establishing a personal mindfulness practice. You’ll also have an opportunity to experience mindfulness in a day-long silent retreat.
Upon completion, participants will be able to incorporate a variety of mindfulness practices into their work, as well as use the principles of mindfulness for their own self-care and well-being.
You do not have to be working toward the Therapeutic Models of Mindfulness certificate to take any of these courses.
Throughout this program, you will be required to keep a journal, reflecting on your experiences. Your journal can be about whatever you'd like it to be about: what you learned during the program, how you've implemented mindfulness practices into your professional or personal life, what you liked/didn't like about the program, what you find helpful/not helpful about mindfulness, etc. Upon completion of the coursework, submit the journal (three to five typed pages) must be submitted to the Faculty of Social Work Professional Development office at firstname.lastname@example.org. The journal must be submitted before your certificate will be granted.
Next offering in October 2018.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a psychotherapy model considered to be a more modern version of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and one of the third wave of behavioural therapies that focus more on acceptance versus change. ACT encourages us to let go of emotional struggles and live our lives according to our values, regardless of unwanted or uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, memories or physical sensations. Its goal is the development of psychological flexibility, achieved through the use of mindfulness, metaphors and experiential exercises. It is an interactive treatment approach that can be creative and inspiring!
This two-day workshop will be suitable for those who have only had some preliminary exposure to ACT as well as to those who are better versed in the model and are looking to expand their confidence in its clinical application. While our first morning will begin with a brief overview of the model, its six processes and its interventions to ensure we are all on the same page, we will then place a greater focus on practical application and honing of skills. To reflect the interactive spirit of ACT, this workshop will move beyond PowerPoint, to the demonstration, experience and rehearsal of ACT strategies with ample time for skill-building feedback. Come prepared to deepen your understanding, expand and polish your clinical repertoire and become enthused by a user-friendly, down to earth model that speaks to us all.
Next offering in November 2018.
Mindfulness, also referred to as vipassana or insight meditation, is a 2,500 year old tradition that is relatively new in Western culture. Jon Kabat- Zinn is credited with its introduction. In the1970s he introduced his mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) program to a group of outpatients at the University of Massachusetts teaching hospital. Having run out of viable options for the treatment of their illnesses, these patients required narcotic pain relief and/or were being given little hope for their futures. The results were more than encouraging. A few decades later, tens of thousands of research studies have shown the efficacy of this practice of mindfulness meditation. It has in fact been so popularized as to have become a household buzzword. Jon himself has expressed the fear that the program could be watered down to a McMindfulness of sorts and looked upon as a “quick fix”. This it is not.
In this two-day experiential course, we will look at the development of MBSR that has led to mindfulness becoming an evidence-based approach for mental and physical health. While initially designed to help patients participate fully in improving their health and quality of life, as a complement to more traditional medical treatments, it has since been mandated in some medical schools where physicians are taught the same skills for their own well-being and for its application to their patients’ well-being. The curriculum of the MBSR program aims to help folks develop life habits and coping skills that can be effectively utilized across life spans. Methods include the learning and refining of a range of self-regulatory skills aimed at increasing relaxation and proprioceptive awareness, as well as mind/body attention related to medical complaints, emotions and thoughts and their effects on symptoms, stress reactivity, coping and general well-being.
Our world, besieged as it is with stress and dysfunction, is craving more awareness. With amazing developments in technology, we have, if anything, become less connected both to ourselves and to each other. Such business leaders as Google and Price Waterhouse have incorporated the practice as an antidote to the relentless pressure and overload in workplaces; some governments such as the UK are already moving beyond its experimental use and making it part of elementary school curricula and graduate schools.
In this course we will experiment with and experience the healing power of mindfulness practice and many of the skills used in the program, with a goal to jumpstarting our and our planet’s healing as we bring this work into our own work and our worlds.
Next offering in December 2018.
This two-day experiential course will provide participants with current research findings on the efficacy of mindfulness for the treatment of depression and anxiety.
Focus will be given to the required building blocks of a personal mindfulness meditation practice. Please bring a yoga mat or blanket and meditation cushion if you have them. Wear comfortable clothing.
Note: This workshop has been pre-approved for 12 continuing education credits by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive treatment approach for chronically suicidal clients. However, in the last decade DBT has received empirical support to treat other populations including eating disorders, addiction, anger problems and other mood disorders. Mindfulness is the cornerstone of DBT; it was the first psychotherapy to incorporate mindfulness as a core component and the mindfulness skills in DBT are the behavioural translation of Zen practice. It is commonly understood that you must master the skill of being fully aware in the present moment without judgment in order to maximize the treatment effectiveness of DBT. This course is intended to help orient the learner to mindfulness and its application within the framework of dialectical behaviour therapy.
At the end of this workshop participants will be able to:
This workshop has been pre-approved for 12 continuing education credits by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).
Next offering in February 2019.
This one-day educational and experiential workshop will provide current research that supports the science, components and benefits of self-compassion. Through discussion, mindfulness meditation and experiential exercises, you will gain practical skills to help bring self-compassion into your daily life. You will learn how to motivate yourself and others with kindness rather than criticism. Practices will be introduced to ease stress for caregivers.
Please wear comfortable clothing. Bring a mat and meditation pillow or bench if you use these with a sitting practice.
CACCF: Six core continuing education hours.
This workshop has been pre-approved for 12 continuing education credits by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).
A silent meditation retreat gives us the opportunity to move deeply into mind/body experience through mindfulness or insight meditation as our foundation practice. Guided periods of sitting meditation, interspersed with mindful movement, will enable us to become more acquainted with our internal experiences of thoughts, emotions and sensations. Without the distractions of everyday life, we will be better able to see what comes and goes over the duration of the day. The insights that arise can assist us both personally and professionally by helping us to: obtain inner quiet, collect and unify the mind, develop a different relationship with troubling thoughts, feelings and sensations, and make wise choices about inner experiences that require action on our part.
The retreat will be guided by Karen James-Abra. Throughout the day you will experience a variety of sitting and moving meditations. Lunch, which will be provided, will be eaten in silence as well. At the end of the silent day, you’ll be placed into pairs to explore the various reactions you have had during the day. Finally, the larger group will reconvene for a general discussion about the experience.
Please wear comfortable clothes (e.g. yoga or workout attire) and dress in layers. The temperature in our classroom tends to vary throughout the day (it can become quite cool) and it is important that you stay comfortable.
We recommend comfortable running or walking shoes. You will be doing some walking meditations and, if the weather cooperates, may be walking outside.
Coffee and tea will be available first thing in the morning. Lunch will be eaten together in silence. Please bring enough snacks and lunch to fuel you through the day.
Many of the meditations will be done while sitting. If available, please bring a yoga mat or meditation cushion or bench. A heavy blanket will also work. If you don’t have access to a mat or cushion, you can sit in a chair during the meditations.
Please arrive between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. for the silent retreat. You will want to find a place to sit and make sure you are comfortable before we begin. There will not be any talking once you enter the meditation hall. Late arrivals will be very disruptive to other participants who have already settled into silence.
Choose three of the following courses.
Note: "Positive Psychology: The Science and Happiness and Breath In" and "Play: Mindfulness Practice with Children" are considered as the equivalent of two electives.
Next offering in April 2019.
The ancient art of mindfulness has been practiced for over 2,500 years to address and/or alleviate human suffering. The basic skills of mindfulness focus on three areas, including focusing attention, open monitoring and compassionate acceptance. As practitioners, our clinical focus is to walk “with” our clients in order for them to experience a means of reducing their human suffering. Becoming a mindful therapist allows us the art of walking “with” our clients experientially, fully present and with enhanced awareness. This workshop will explore how one can move in the direction of becoming a mindful-based practitioner within himself or herself, creating a greater openness in how we sit and be with our clients. The art of mindfulness starts within us first before we can share it with others.
Mindfulness is increasingly being shared with children in educational, medical, mental health, community and home settings. Research shows that mindfulness practice with children can reduce stress, improve emotion regulation, foster academic learning, reduce anxiety, increase executive function, and promote overall well-being.
This experiential workshop will offer an introduction to teaching mindfulness to children that is informed by the intersecting knowledge of mindfulness and neurobiology. Through story, art, music, movement and ‘formal’ practice, participants will learn to share mindfulness and neuroscience-info with children and families in age-appropriate, playful and creative ways. All playful practices will be infused with mindfulness principles, such as acceptance, letting go, patience, non-judgment, non-striving and self-kindness and compassion.
Participants will also have the opportunity to lead mindfulness-based practices and inquiry aimed at children and families. With step-by-step scaffolding, participants will further develop their skills and confidence in sharing mindfulness with children.
Think about the last time you truly lost yourself in an activity: A time when you were so absorbed and focused on something or someone that you were immersed in the moment, your senses honing in solely on what you were doing. Likely a time when you had few to no other demands than to zero in on where you were at that moment. Perhaps you were participating in a sport, involved in something artistic or creative, or engaged in an intimate moment with someone important to you. Can you recall the details of that moment? And can you remember what that felt like?
Mindfulness: the conscious focusing of one’s attention on the present moment, with an accepting, non-striving and non-judgmental attitude. That may be one way to describe your experience. Mindfulness can also be considered the opposite of mindlessness, a tendency to act in an automatic, distractible and potentially unsatisfying way that is often supported in a productivity-oriented society.
Formal mindfulness meditations focusing on the breath, sounds or our body, as examples, are often encouraged and practiced in sessions with clients when using a mindfulness-informed approach to therapy. But there may be times when we need something concrete, or additional, to drive home the point.
As a means of building our clinical repertoire, this experiential workshop will aim to engage participants in a variety of creative mindfulness exercises that may result in a playful, relaxing, rejuvenating and thought-provoking experience (maybe like camp?). That said, these exercises (which do not require any special skills) are designed to promote a “one-minded” focus and provide an alternative, more meaningful way of being that can be transferred to other areas of life. The intention is that activities can be modified and adapted for clinical use with clients presenting with a variety of issues. Activities may involve music, art, clay, writing, movement, photography (bring your cell phones or cameras).
Combining mindfulness to strengthen emotional regulation with existing empirical supported post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments can improve outcomes through:
Several psychotherapeutic interventions incorporating training in mindfulness are clinically relevant to traumatic stress. PTSD treatment could benefit from including mindfulness into the therapeutic process. This would include areas such as the neuroscience of mindfulness, assessment instruments for mindfulness, mechanism of mindfulness and the relation between mindfulness and other techniques. Evidence suggests that mindfulness can improve the therapeutic results and the outcome of PTSD clients.
Mindfulness can be used in two ways:
Positive psychology (dubbed "the science of happiness") is the scientific study of optimal human functioning and the conditions that lead to this. While traditional psychology has focused on discovering the causes and effective treatments of mental illness, and has made great advances to this end, positive psychology posits that we can do more. People come to us wanting to achieve more than simply "the absence of depression"; they want to be happy and fulfilled. Research in positive psychology has found that the interventions that lead to this latter state are distinct from interventions that treat mental illness. Positive interventions can be taught for different purposes: they can be a supplement to other therapy interventions, they can be taught in their own right, and/or they can be taught for the purpose of prevention of later psychological problems by building resilience.
Topics studied in positive psychology include factors and interventions that lead to optimism, resilience, well-being, fulfilment, success, and (of course) happiness. In this two-part interactive workshop, we will review the research findings and the evidence-based interventions of positive psychology that can be applied in counselling and education settings as well as in our own lives. The two-week break in between day one and two of this workshop is intended to give an opportunity for participants to practice the positive interventions taught in class.
Participants will learn:
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