Physicians in MBSR training?

I am a psychiatrist considering the full MBSR training. I’d love to devote my practice to MBSR and meditation, and move away from medications, if possible. Wondering if there are other psychiatrists who are moving, or have already moved in that same direction and your thoughts on this process.

Thank you!


Hi Ulka,

I’m a preventive medicine doc who is contemplating this kind of transition as well.

I think I may take the 9d Fundamentals course and see where that leads.

Please let me know how things evolve for you.

Best wishes–

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Hi Alyson,

Thanks so much for your response. That’s great that you are contemplating this as well! I was thinking about the Mind Body Medicine course. Let’s definitely keep in touch. I’ll be sure to let you know what I decide.


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Hi I am a pain medicine specialist and just completed the 9 day fundamentals course. There were 2 other physicians in the group. I was definitely thinking of complementing my practice by incorporating MBSR into treatment, and similarly in hopes of reducing reliance on medications.

Keep us posted on your progress!


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Hi Michael,

Thank so much for your response! Are you planning to take any other courses? I’m considering the Mind Body Medicine course, but I’m not sure how that compares to the 9d fundamentals course. So exciting to hear other physicians like yourself are moving in the same direction. Will definitely keep you updated and please do the same.


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Thanks for this topic. I am a Neurologist and Sleep Medicine specialist, retired in 2006 from the practice of Medicine and have been teaching MBSR and other mindfulness based programs since 2009. I first came to MBSR in 1998 when I was asked to refer patients from our Sleep center to the class. It was also suggested that I take the class for my personal stresses…and so I did!
A few comments:

  • teaching MBSR is different than teaching mindfulness techniques and practices to patients, since MBSR is a specific intervention whose benefits may or may not be the same as those derived from other mindfulness course/practices.
  • I and others strongly suggest if you are going to teach MBSR, you should attend an MBSR course as a participant. The 5 day experiential portion of the 9 day fundamentals course may give one a good idea of what the MBSR is about, but it is not the the same, and I am not aware of many areas that offer the 5 day Mindfulness training so that your patients can attend. In other words, the 8 week MBSR is more common and available. Also I am not aware of any research on the 5 Day programs whereas 8 week MBSR has been abundantly researched.
  • I found the Mind Body quite appropriate for practicing physicians and other healthcare providers, and for me helpful to know what MBSR, and to a lesser degree mindfulness in general, can do for patients (as well as for physicians).
  • If as a physician you are going to actually offer any mindfulness, whether MBSR or otherwise, it is strongly suggest that you have a mindfulness practice and allow the teaching to come from the practice. This is something I find hard getting use to, the learning is experiential, not from books, lectures, or even the courses. But in order to truly convey what mindfulness is–and isn’t–one must have a personal practice.
  • Staying in community with others teaching mindfulness is quite helpful, just as staying in community with others that are practicing Medicine is.

I could go on.
I appreciate this topic as it allows me to clarify some things in my own mind. I am happy to share more

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Thank you so much for your response! This is definitely very helpful for me, and I’m sure for others reading this post as well. So wonderful to hear that you’ve been able to teach mindfulness and MBSR! It’s very inspiring to learn about your path.

I am planning to take a live MBSR course this fall, (in D.C. where I live), to help me re-establish a regular daily meditation practice. Do you feel it’s necessary to complete the full MBSR training course to be an MBSR instructor? The training is pretty extensive, and I’m wondering if one can feel prepared to teach MBSR without completing the full program?

My long term plan is to do what you’ve done - move away from prescribing, and transition to teaching mindfulness and MBSR in the community, clinics, etc. If I may ask, how did you begin teaching? Do you find that it’s a viable career for physicians who have left, or plan to leave medicine? I’m just not sure if this something that is sustainable as a career for physicians, or if if one needs to maintain a “day job”.

Thank you so much for your insights.


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Thanks for the reply and inquiry Ulka.
Here is my experience and opinions:

  • First to teach MBSR you really should participate as a student in an 8 week MBSR course, and then if possible as a participant - observer.
  • As far as teaching, its best to get into the teacher training program like UMass’ Oasis’s MBSR Teacher Education & Certification (TE), or UC San Diego Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute. Before completing either of these program’s certification process, you will be allowed and encouraged to begin teaching MBSR courses yourself. At you do this you may find out whether teaching MBSR is something you really want to do, which may help how far to take the formal training.
  • Other opportunities may present themselves as you attend training courses teach class and network with others.

And to the question, my experience is that you will need a day job or a steady source of income other than the MBSR classes.
Hope this helps - I am happy to speak by phone if you like

Great, thank you! This totally makes sense. Seems like at this stage I should first focus on completing my MBSR course as a student and see how it goes. Then I can decide how much training I’m up for, and if it feels like the right path for me.

A phone call once I’ve made some progress on this path would be really helpful - thank you so much. I’ll keep you updated.


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Thank you, happy to discuss further any time

Check out Dr. Henry Emmons in Minnesota, he has since moved on to creating
his own resilience programs weaving mindfulness into them at Partner’s for
Resilience. Written books: Chemestry of Calm, Chemestry of Joy and COJ


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I will definitely check these books out - thank you!

Hello Gus,

Thanks for sharing your experience with this process.

I took the 8 wk MBSR course a little more than 5 years ago at CFM in Shrewsbury at the end of my residency and have had a daily meditation practice since. I’ve done a couple of multi-day silent retreats as well. I’m planning on taking the 9d fundamentals course first, I think. The UCSD training program also looks interesting, but the way in which the Oasis program piggybacks the teacher training onto an actual 5 day course really appeals to me.

I wondered if you’d be willing to comment a bit more about how you found your first MBSR teaching opportunities? Did you teach alone or with a co-teacher? I live in an area where people trained to teach MBSR are few and far between, so I guess I may end up flying solo. I can imagine teaching MBSR (likely the 8 wk version) in a variety of settings.

Also, how do you procure materials for your courses (workbooks or worksheets, etc.)? If one trains with Oasis or UCSD, does this allow access to specific course materials once one begins teaching? Or have you done something different?

Thank you very much!


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Hi again,

To clarify, I am wondering, Gus, how you located or arranged for your first MBSR courses as a teacher? (Not necessarily how you found them to be…though that of course would be interesting too.)


Hi Alyson. thanks for the question and calrification.
If you are asking how my 1st classes came about, its somewhat long story. Briefly I taught my 1st MBSR class was in 2010, by then I had participated as a student in MBSR course 3 times (1998, 2003, and 2009). I was fortunate to be able to observe-participate with my teacher a few times to help out with the room set up, materials and such. Also, around that time, I met someone that was involved with UMass CFM who spent winters in our area. She and I became friends and together we held and led all day sessions on a monthly basis at her home. We also went to different places offering mindfulness classes, workshops, including a local alcohol-drug treatment center, Medical School and a non-profit integrative cancer care center. It was at the latter 2 that I co-taught my 1st MBSR courses.
I have been very fortunate and blessed as I realize this is not the typical way new teachers start teaching. As such, to pay it forwards, I offer to co teach with teachers that are starting out.

As far as the material needed for your class, you will learn more about this at the MBSR Practice Teaching Intensive, but what I did was to modify the ones I received from the classes I participated in. I am happy to share my material if you like.
CFM offers MBSR Group and Individual Supervision.
Staying connected with other teachers, including thru cfmHome will be very useful.
Hope this helps - -Gus

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Hi all, I am a Behavior Analyst currently working with the special needs community and their families. I have had a mindfulness practice for about 30 years (with some stretches without practicing). I’ve become increasingly interested in teaching MBSR to this community and especially caregivers (and ABA providers) as its very challenging for these families to be non-reactive in the face of daunting behavioral difficulties. I myself am trying to figure out this transition and how to retain behavioral standards in my work.

For me, the challenge is finding where they have commonalities and bringing that to the fore of my practice. I have completed the 8-week MBSR course, the teacher fundamentals class, 2 very transformative long silent retreats, and i am enrolled to take the teaching intensive (PTI) course in March.

In ABA, internal states (aka.mentalism) are considered outside the realm of our practice, but increasingly, I see this as a challenge to find that overlap so that patients can benefit from a service that sees them as a whole person rather than just a collection of behaviors.

Anyone else out there interedted in this topic?

Thanks! Caroline

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I wanted to follow up on this post and share some recent findings in my search for interconnection between behavior analytic work and mindfulness practice. I discovered a wonderful non-certification practice called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which is a data-driven therapeutic approach that focuses on mindfulness practice as a core element, and it appears, at first glance (so to speak), to really marry these two fields rather nicely. I’m excited about learning more!


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If you have not read it yet, I highly recommend you all read Ron Epstien’s new book “Attending.” It is specifically addresses the unique challenges we face as physicians and ways of incorporating mindfulness into our own practices. He also runs a course in Rochester NY specifically for physicians.


Hello there! I am also a physician who has now transitioned to teaching MBSR and meditation. Alyson, I, too, am a Preventive Medicine doc ;) and Michael - Dr. Epstein was my Med school advisor. He is amazing. The retreats he and Dr. Krasner run in Batavia, NY are very nourishing. Thank you, Ulka, for starting this thread!

I was fortunate to have been able to get training and co-teach MBSR with an attending trained by CFM during residency. That experience really set me up well for the CFM training pathway and confirmed my decision to take this path in my career as I have had a personal meditation practice since my early 20’s. I always wanted a way to share this with patients and MBSR is a beautiful curriculum to do just that. I also move around internationally with my husband’s career, and teaching mindfulness allows me to always find work wherever we go.

Re: finding opportunities, I try and network within the medical community and local yoga or complementary medicine providers during our moves. For example, I will be giving a lunch talk for docs at our local hospital soon. These help to let them know what I can offer and often attract fellow physicians or other healthcare providers to learn mindfulness, often leading to referrals for their patients, etc.

I am still along the CFM pathway, so I don’t teach strict MBSR yet. I modify the curriculum to include other Lifestyle Medicine principles from my specialty and often will tailor it for specific communities.

I am so happy to connect with other physicians along this pathway. Please feel free to reach out! Wishing you all the best.

With love, Rashmi

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I am a psychiatrist in DC and am just seeing your posts, now already close to a year old. Feel free to reach out to me to discuss this further. I work with individuals with chronic mental illness and will not be moving away from medications, but I certainly incorporate this into my work with patients and am pursuing training as an MBSR teacher.
Risa Fishman