Professional Standards for the Mindfulness Teachers Association of Ireland (MTAI) 2021

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 Mindfulness Based Interventions (MBIs).

The International Framework for the Integrity of Mindfulness-Based Programmes 2017 was published as we in Ireland were undergoing the process of developing standards for teachers of MBI’s. The document was used as the basis for the development of standards for teachers and programmes in Ireland. The Association would like to acknowledge the huge amount of collaborative work that has gone into the creation of this invaluable framework.

Standards for Teachers of MBIs 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 are encouraged to look for support and guidance around personal meditation practice when needed.

1.2 MTAI Recognised Programmes

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

1.2.1 Other Training Pathways

Applications for membership will also be considered from teachers who have not graduated from one of the recognised training programmes but can demonstrate equivalency to the training standards of the MTAI and, have developed significant experience delivering MBI programmes over a number of years. Please see below the training standards for programmes.

1.3 MTAI Members Should be Qualified to Teach MBIs

MTAI members are expected to adhere to the specific curriculum in what they are trained in, in order to respect the integrity of each MBI programme.

It is acknowledged that experienced and discerning teachers may choose to exercise wise judgement to make minor adaptations to the programmes. For example, Kabat-Zinn (2010) suggested,

“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 curricula to come alive”.

Teachers also need to be aware of the limitations of MBI programmes. Participation in one of these is not a substitute for necessary medical treatment or therapy.

1.4. Supervision is Required

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

For MTAI members who are teaching shorter mindfulness programmes, regular supervision is recommended to support the development of the teacher and the integrity of the practice for participants.

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 about a participant on a programme, a teacher commits to consulting with their supervisor and, if necessary, a medical or mental health professional.
It is imperative that when MTAI members are offering MBIs to participants in a clinical setting that they have relevant clinical training, experience and supervision. It is to be noted that clinical supervision is separate to mindfulness supervision.
If offering mindfulness to a clinical group and you are not professionally trained for clinical settings, then it is essential that a clinician is there for clinical support.

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 MBIs and other areas emerging that are deemed significant for the teaching of these programmes. The calculation and allocation of CPD, see below, 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:rent 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:

CPD Credits

ActivityCredits
Attendance at AGM2
Sub-committee member (per year)3
Board member (per year)5
Residential/online workshop/or retreat (2.5 days)3
Residential/online retreat (5-7 days)6
MTAI Day workshop2
Supervision received (per 4 hours)4
Attending conferences/Article submission2
Member of / facilitator of drop in mindfulness.2
Other relevant mindfulness workshops2
Further mindfulness training of ≥ 7 days. e.g. MBCL6

The MTAI may require members to produce evidence of CPD. CPD requirements will be subject to occasional review.

1.6 Attendance at Retreats

Teachers are required to attend silent meditation retreats that reflect and serve as a foundation for mindfulness. Annual attendance at a 5 -7 days silent, teacher-led preferably residential or, if needed, an online 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, for example, 2 weekend retreats per year with one 5-7 day silent retreat every 3 years.

1.7 The Code of Ethics and Conduct of the MTAI and MTAI Constitution

MTAI members are required to abide by the MTAI Code of Ethics and Conduct and the MTAI Constitution

1.8 Copyright

Members are expected to respect copyright and ownership of ideas and products, to represent their own work honestly, and not to appropriate others’ work as one’s own without permission. This applies to websites, recordings, logos, quotes and any written material.

1.9 Use of MTAI Logo

Teachers who are members of the MTAI are permitted to display the MTAI logo on their advertising materials (printed and electronic.). Members are not permitted to make changes to the MTAI logo.
Members are not permitted to use the MTAI logo on any materials intended for sale without permission from the MTAI administrator.

2.0 Standards and Criteria for MTAI Teacher Training Programmes.

These standards and criteria are the minimum recommended requirements for teacher training programmes. Successful graduates will be eligible to gain membership of the MTAI.

Domain of Standards

Pre-requisites or foundational requirements to enter a training programme.

Description of Domain

Attendance at an 8-week course as a participant.

Range of Domain

Completion of at least one MBI 8-week group-based programme as a participant in person or online comprising 2-2.5 hours per week and including a 1-day retreat. The programme should be led by a qualified MBI teacher. This can be completed before or during the training.

Meditation

A minimum of one year of personal mindfulness meditation practice is recommended and familiarity with mindfulness and the wisdom traditions underpinning it which will be developed further during training.

Personal development

A commitment to ongoing daily personal practice and personal development and this will be developed further during training.

Retreat Experience

It is strongly recommended that a minimum of one silent, teacher-led retreat of 5 – 7 days is undertaken before training. If this is not possible, the student undertakes to attend a retreat during or shortly after training. The retreat should reflect the meditation tradition that serves as a foundation for the spirit, practice and attitudes of MBIs.
In exceptional circumstances, 2 x 2 ½ day retreats may be acceptable.

Professional background

  • Ideally candidates will be working in and have a professional qualification in the area of health, psychology, medicine, nursing or education – but other fields may also be accepted.
  • In the interests of inclusion prior learning and life experience will be considered.
  • Experience of working in or with groups is recommended.
  • A minimum of three years’ work experience in the field of one’s profession is recommended.
  • All candidates will have undergone an in-depth
    application process before being accepted.

Teaching pathways

The different parts of each training pathway fit together and form a comprehensive programme.
Training can be undertaken in different ways, as different training schools have different formats – for example, a continuous training over a over a certain length of time, a modular training or a combination of trainings through different teaching schools. All pathways will lead the trainee to accreditation/ certification with a particular training institution.

All training programmes should offer in-depth training in the theory, rationale and intentions underpinning MBIs.
They should contain significant amounts of experiential learning, along with ample time to reflect, give and receive feedback from self, peers and instructors. A training programme includes supervision while teaching the relevant 8-week course as a student, either through the trainers themselves or through external qualified supervisors. Qualification as a teacher indicates
readiness to teach the particular programme one has trained in, however, does not qualify the teacher as a teacher-trainer. See Section 3 below.

Crucial components of teacher training programmes

Training Content

  • Familiarisation with and analysis of curriculum elements (themes, practices, presentational elements, learning activities and group process) both in individual classes and in the program as a whole.
  • The programme should be for a minimum of 18 month’s duration and have a minimum of 150 hours group-based contact hours in person or online.
  • Training should be delivered by a variety of senior teacher trainers.
  • Training content incorporates experiential learning which supports participants in cultivating the embodiment of mindfulness.
  • The skill and art of guiding formal and informal practice.
  • The theory and practice (skill development) of delivering psycho-educational elements of MBIs.
  • The theory and practice of facilitating inquiry.
  • Theoretical underpinnings of the programme including relevant current scientific and/or clinical understanding as well as from relevant spiritual, philosophical and wisdom traditions, including the Buddhist psychological underpinnings to mindfulness practice and teaching.
  • Theory and practice of holding a safe group learning environment and theory of adult learning and group
    dynamics.
    A process of self-reflection to develop teacher awareness and the development of the skills necessary for reflective practice appropriate to life-long learning. Self-reflection may include writing, video, audio, and other means of expression.
  • Giving and receiving feedback with peers and instructors.
    Supervision of teaching to include a minimum of 4 hours one-to-one supervision of an 8-week MBI programme as a trainee. This forms part of the final assessment.
  • Ongoing assessment of individual student’s learning needs in order to support teacher development and readiness to teach MBI’s. This includes all 6 domains of the Mindfulness Based Interventions: Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC, Crane et al 2016)2.
  • On-going formative feedback and assessment on teaching practice and development from more experienced teachers. Formal assessment should be based on the Mindfulness Based Interventions: Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI TAC).
  • Audio recordings of all guided formal practices are encouraged to be made by students for their participants.

 

2 Rebecca S. Crane, Judith Soulsby, Willem Kuyken, J. Mark G. Williams, Catrin Eames
Mindfulness –based Interventions Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC) May 2012 & 2016 https://www.bangor.ac.uk/mindfulness/documents/MBI- TACmanualsummaryaddendums05-16.pdf

Assessment procedure

Students will be assessed by submitting at least two classes of an 8-week MBI that they have been trained to teach. A reflective essay on their teaching should accompany this. This will be assessed by a separate teacher (i.e. a teacher who is not the student’s supervisor) and who had been trained in using the MBI-TAC framework.*

  • Preparation of all teaching materials (handbook and/or home practice assignments, class plans, audio-files).

 

*Meeting this requirement may mean some changes for some training bodies. To accommodate this, we suggest allowing a two-year grace period to allow training bodies to fulfill this from Jan 2023.

Quality assurance process

  • The training body would ideally incorporate a quality
    assurance process for their programmes which could include input from a suitably qualified independent external assessor. The assessor sees the course modules offered as well as a representative sample of the written work and the assessment of the student.

Resources

The Framework for the Integrity of Mindfulness-Based Programmes (2017) was used as basis for the development of the MTAI Standards for Teachers and Educational Programs. Goldstein A, Hudasch G, Heijke L, Kenny M, Koerbel L, Luu ck P, Phillips C, Taravajra. (2017). Framework for the Integrity of Mindfulness-Based Programmes

Other Resources

Crane, R.S., Kuyken, W., Hastings, R.P., Rothwell, N. and Williams, J.M.G., (2010). Training teachers to deliver mindfulness-based interventions: Learning from the UK experience. Mindfulness, 1(2), pp.74- 86.

Crane, R.S., Soulsby, J.G., Kuyken, W., Williams, J.M.G., Eames, C., Bartley, T., Cooper, C., Evans, A., Fennell, M.J., Gold, E. and Mardula, J., (2012) & (2106). The Bangor, Exeter & Oxford Mindfulness- Based Interventions Teaching Assessment Criteria. Unpublished manuscript. https://www.bangor.ac.uk/mindfulness/documents/MBI-TACmanualsummaryaddendums05-16.pdf

 

Crane, R.S., Brewer, J., Feldman, C., Kabat-Zinn, J., Santorelli, S., Williams, J.M.G. and Kuyken, W., (2017). What defines mindfulness-based programs? The warp and the weft. Psychological medicine, 47(6), pp.990-999.

Egger–Buu ssing,, et al. (2013). European Associations for Mindfulness Based Approaches (EAMBA).
Ethical Guidelines for MBSR and MBCT Teachers http://eamba.apps-1and1.net/about

Evans, A., Crane, R., Cooper, L., Mardula, J., Wilks, J., Surawy, C., Kenny, M. and Kuyken, W., 2015. A framework for supervision for mindfulness-based teachers: A space for embodied mutual inquiry. Mindfulness, 6(3), pp.572-581.

Kabat-Zinn, J,. (2010) in McCown, D., Reibel, D. and Micozzi, M.S. Teaching mindfulness. A practical guide for clinicians and educators. US: Springer. pp xv

Kabat-Zinn, J., Santorelli, S.F., Blacker, M. and Brantley, J., Meleo-Meyer, F., Kesper-Grossman, U., Reibel,D., Stahl, B,. (2017). Training Teachers to Deliver Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – Principles and Standards. Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society – University of Massachusetts Medical School. http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/training/principles–standards/

 

Mindfulness Teachers Network of Ireland. (2015). Good Practice Guidelines for Teaching Mindfulness- based Courses.
http://www.mindfulnessteachersnetworkireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Irish-Teacher- Guidelines-April-20-2015-1-1-1.pdf

UK Network of Mindfulness Teacher Training Organisations. (2015). Good Practice Guidance for Teachers. https://mindfulnessteachersuk.org.uk/pdf/UK%20MB%20teacher%20GPG
%202015%20final%202.pdf