Professional Standards for the MTAI

This document offers a comprehensive and robust set of minimum requirements for members of the MTAI that uphold the ethical standards, promote integrity and uphold transparency for teaching MBSR and MBCT in Ireland. 

This document is based on The International Framework for the Integrity of Mindfulness-Based Programmes 2017

1. Standards for Teachers of MBSR and / or MBCT who are MTAI Members

1.1 Commitment to a Personal Practice

Ongoing daily personal formal and informal mindfulness practice is essential. Teachers are expected to do no less than what is asked of participants in relation to formal and informal mindfulness practice. Teachers commit to regular dialogue and supervision around personal meditation practice.

1.2 MTAI Recognised Programmes

MTAI recognizes teachers who have successfully qualified with the following programmes:

Applications for membership will also be considered from teachers who have not graduated from one of the recognized training programmes but can demonstrate equivalency to the training standards of the MTAI, or have developed significant experience delivering MBSR and / or MBCT programmes over a number of years.

1.3 MTAI Members Should be Qualified to Teach MBSR and / or MBCT

MTAI members are expected to adhere to the MBSR and MBCT curricula that they offer and neither add nor remove anything from the original programmes in order to respect the integrity of the curricula.

It is acknowledged that experienced and discerning teachers, may choose to exercise wise judgement to make minor adaptations to the programme(s) as recommended by Kabat-Zinn (2010) who states “There is a great deal of latitude and space built into the MBSR curriculum for the teacher to bring in himself or herself in critical ways, including, where appropriate, new information and practices. That latitude in creativity is essential for the curriculum to come alive”.

The Centre for Mindfulness UMass (2017) states “The essence of the MBSR program is not easily conveyed by a written document. The teaching of MBSR is less about following a class plan and more about a deep and personal experience of mindfulness and a concomitant knowledge and skill in knowing how best to convey the practice of mindfulness in a highly experiential learning environment. The person of the teacher plays a substantive role in this conveyance.”

Teachers need to be aware of the limitations of MBSR and MBCT. Participation in MBSR, MBCT is not a substitute for any necessary medical treatment or psychotherapy.

1.4. Supervision is Required

Supervision is required, either individual or in a group, with a suitably qualified mindfulness supervisor, whilst teaching MBSR or MBCT programmes. The recommended number of hours of one to one supervision is 4 hours as a minimum per MBSR or MBCT programme taught for newly qualified teachers for the first 9 programmes and a minimum of 2 hours per programme for subsequent programmes.

For MTAI members who are teaching shorter mindfulness programmes, regular supervision is recommended.

It is imperative that MTAI members offering MBSR or MBCT to participants in a clinical setting have relevant clinical training experience and supervision which is separate to mindfulness supervision.

If an MTAI member feels s/he is not competent for a certain situation, s/he will inform the participant and refer him/her to a colleague.

When in doubt, a teacher commits to consulting with their supervisor and if necessary a medical or mental health professional.

1.5 Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is Required

In order to maintain best practice and standards, MTAI members are required to engage in ongoing training and continuing personal and professional development. This includes connection and collaboration within the mindfulness community as well as a commitment to ongoing personal development, support and reflection. 

Best practice also requires familiarity with current research for evidence based MBSR and MBCT and other areas emerging that are deemed significant for the teaching of MBSR and MBCT. The calculation and allocation of CPD is open to review and may be changed from time to time. Ten credits need to be fulfilled annually and can be made up in the following ways:

Activity = CPD Points

  • Attendance at AGM = 2
  • Sub committee member (per year) = 3
  • Board member (per year) = 5
  • Residential workshop (2.5 ) = 3
  • Residential retreat (5-7 days) = 6
  • MTAI Day workshop days = 2
  • Supervision received (per 4 hours) = 4
  • Attending conferences/Article submission = 2
  • Member of / facilitator of drop in mindfulness = 2
  • Other relevant mindfulness workshops = 2
  • Further mindfulness training of ≥ 7 days. e.g. MBCL = 6
As regular auditing of membership will take place the MTAI may ask members to produce evidence of the above. CPD requirements will be subject to occasional review.

1.6 Attendance at Retreats is Required

MBSR and MBCT teachers are required to attend silent meditation retreats that reflect and serve as a foundation for MBSR or MBCT. Annual attendance at a 5 -7 days silent, teacher-led residential retreat is necessary to support ongoing best practice. Attending retreats supports the deepening of a teacher’s capacity to embody mindfulness and is essential for competent and ethical teaching.

It is acknowledged that personal circumstances need to be taken into account when considering the frequency and duration of retreats attended. While the typical expectation (following training) is 5-7 days of silent retreat per year, personal circumstances such as family commitments or resources may require an alternate schedule e.g. 2 weekend retreats per year with one 5-7 day silent retreat every 3 years.