Man thinking: is MBSR training worth it?

How do I get MBSR training, and is it worth it?

Last Updated:
November 30, 2020
Hunter Varnum

MBSR Training (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Training) & meditation teacher training, in general, are becoming increasingly popular. Not only for those looking to use mindfulness to reduce anxiety & stress but also for people who want to learn how to lead guided meditations professionally.

In this post, I aim to provide you with a comprehensive review of what MBSR is, how you can become qualified to deliver MBSR training, and answer some of the most popular questions asked by those looking to get an MBSR certification.

History of MBSR Training

MBSR therapy was originally created for stress management and is currently used to treat a range of illnesses and conditions, such as anxiety, depression, chronic pain, addictions, hypertension, and more.

A Professor of Medicine Emeritus named Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine in the Medical School at the University of Massachusetts in 1979. It was during his time at MIT that Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., was initially introduced to the philosophy of Buddhism. It is thought that he used an adaptation of these teachings to develop his first Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program. However, when his initial program was later renamed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, the framework originating from Buddhist origins was removed, and MBSR training became more widely referred to in a scientific context.

In 2013, the Professor defined Mindfulness as – “Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.” 

Mindfulness continues to be the subject of much research. There are many studies that examine the impact of mindfulness in clinical settings, on the brain, and indeed on the wellbeing of individuals who regularly practice this state of focused awareness, finding their inner peace.

Since its introduction, MBSR training has now evolved into a well-known and highly-regarded form of complementary medicine that can help to address a wide variety of health-related issues.

What is included in an MBSR Training Program?

If you’re looking at MBSR teacher training, then you probably have already encountered a huge number of MBSR online training course options. In this section, I aim to breakdown what is included in a typical MBSR training program.

Before I start, it’s important to note that each MBSR training course is slightly different. Some of the MBSR training courses are delivered online in full, whereas others will blend practical training with online theoretical studies. While it’s important to choose the right meditation training or MBSR course that fits in with your lifestyle and other commitments, it is essential you find the most comprehensive MBSR syllabus and one which meets your needs while providing you with the right information you need to teach MBSR effectively in your practice.

After all, if you want to do MBSR teacher training, you need to find a course that gives you the ability to confidently deliver an eight-week training program that uses a combination of body awareness, yoga, and mindfulness meditation; and which includes weekly group meetings, a full-day retreat, and other homework assignments you set for your students.

Depending on your existing level of knowledge and understanding of these subjects, choosing the right MBSR online training provider is key to give you the tools, techniques, and knowledge in order to deliver an MBSR training program effectively.

Here are a few examples of what a typical MBSR training program will include:

Most MBSR teacher training courses will have a course prerequisite, in that you should have already taken the 8-week MBSR training program and attended one silent retreat before you can learn how to teach MBSR for yourself.

As a global leader in MBSR training, the Mindfulness Center at Brown offers a comprehensive teacher training track to follow. While there are many variations of online MBSR teacher training programs, this particular institution provides a way for anyone to learn and do MBSR teacher training online. The course is offered at three levels; each pathway is outlined below.


This is just one example; another MBSR teacher training program is outlined briefly for you in the next section.

MBSR Online Training Option

The Three Phases of online MBSR teacher training 

Step 1

This initial phase should take roughly 6-months to complete. It is the group-based training element of your MBSR teacher that covers all the MBSR teacher training curriculum, and examines Mindfulness-based interventions. Training involves attendance as six training retreats (which could be either in-person or online), usually taking place on a monthly basis. Most MBSR online training providers offer different pathways for students that are based on experience and account for any previous studies, such as MBRP, MBCL, MBCT, MSC, Zenways, and more. There will usually be an additional set of mindfulness retreats to attend, spanning a total of five days. Understandably, this is the most intensive period of study, as you learn mindfulness fundamentals and teaching principles.

Step 2

This secondary phase of MBSR training can take anywhere between 4-12 months to complete and involves you teaching two full 8-week MBSR courses with supervision. You are fully supported, with supervisory sessions usually delivered via phone or video conference. The goal of the support is to help you with a reflective learning process that gives you the opportunity to integrate live feedback into your courses as they are delivered.

Step 3

This final phase of your online MBSR teacher training can take between 1-3 months to complete. It can only take place after you have taught 2 x 8-week MBSR trainings. It requires the completion and submission of your student portfolio. You will be asked to include an audio recording from your MBSR meditation practice, evidence of your personalized MBSR curriculum, and personal meditation diaries, and will ultimately assess all of your work.

Whether you choose to do a 100% online MBSR teacher training course or you opt for a hybrid training schedule, you will need to be fully committed to the program to get the most out of it. Many mainstream course providers will also ask that you have completed an 8-week MBSR training course prior to being accepted, so this will need to be factored into your training if it is not something you’ve already done.

Is MBSR Effective?

Mindfulness-based stress reduction is effective, yes. There are hundreds upon thousands of studies that clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of MSBR across a broad range of applications in various settings and situations. The utilization of mindfulness-based stress reduction as a therapy in both outpatient and inpatient care has shown demonstrable and comparable relief to medication.

Finding effective ways to prevent and manage stress is a priority in many organizations and clinics. Whether MBSR training is provided to healthy individuals or those with existing medical conditions, it provides proven benefits that are backed up with scientific studies that demonstrate its effectiveness.

Both the National Center for PTSD and the U.S Department of Veteran’s Affairs list trauma-informed mindfulness as an effective mindfulness therapy that has proven to be useful for issues seen in trauma survivors.

The MBSR training program was launched over 40 years ago, and during this time, it has earned a respectful reputation as a highly effective stress-reduction method. One of the greatest attributes of MBSR training is that it can be effective for all people at all stages of their lives.

If you are considering MBSR teacher training, then there is no better time than the present to get started. With a growing number of MBSR online course options available, many of which enable you to start your MBSR teacher training remotely, choosing the best provider is key.

Make sure to read my other articles about how to become a meditation teacher and how to become a meditation coach to help determine the option that best suits you.

MBSR Training FAQs

What is MBSR Training?

Short for Mindfulness-based Stress reduction, MBSR is an eight-week meditation therapy program. MBSR training is now offered in clinics, educational, corporate, hospitals, health centers, and other settings globally. It utilizes an evidence-based approach to help people combat the impact of stress, medical conditions, or past trauma in their daily lives and teaches key daily practices and new ways of thinking for better, more productive outcomes.

What qualifications do you need to become an MBSR teacher?

While many of the online MBSR teacher training providers require no formal qualifications to enroll in a course, it is often a prerequisite that you have taken the eight-week MBSR course for yourself. Some providers might be able to help you access this course, but having the practical experience from the perspective of a participant is an invaluable asset that will help propel your learning journey and give you a clear understanding of what it takes to teach an MBSR course for yourself.

What does MBSR stand for?

MBSR stands for Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. It is a type of meditation therapy and can also be referred to as trauma-informed mindfulness or mindfulness training.

Can I get certified in MBSR?

Yes, if you want to learn how to teach meditation, there are a number of pathways and courses you can take to learn how to lead a guided meditation and get certified as an MBSR teacher.

How long does it take to become certified in MBSR?

Although there are certain MBSR course providers that provide a fast-track route to becoming a certified MBSR teacher, it’s important to consider all options. You will usually need to take the eight-week MBSR course as a participant before you can officially start your teacher training.

Many providers will request that you allow six months to study the MBSR curriculum and attend a retreat, followed by a further 4-12 months to lead two x 8-week MBSR courses of your own. With this in mind, it could realistically take between 12-18 months to gain an MBSR teacher training certification. However, if you have already studied the curriculum or are an experienced teacher, the total time to achieve your MBSR certification could be reduced.

In Conclusion 

MBSR teacher training is now more accessible than ever before. You can get started online, and if you’ve already studied MCBT or similar, then you’ll already have an appreciation for what’s involved and the results that you can help your clients achieve. The cost of MBSR training varies greatly, and the price you pay will depend on who you choose to do your MBSR training with and whether the course is going to be 100% online or not.

MBSR training has proven benefits, and because of this, I would say it is absolutely worth it. However, if you are looking for ways to grow your business and help your clients by leading guided meditations, then our 6-week guided meditation facilitator course could be better suited to your immediate needs.

This tailor-made course provides coaches, therapists, nurses, practitioners, yoga teachers, counselors, school teachers, and others with the skills needed to guide others through meditation. It is fully online and offers a creative yet pragmatic method to help you use meditation effectively in 1-on-1 sessions that can truly provide clarity and value to your clients while setting you apart from others in your industry.

About the Guided Meditation Framework 

The Guided Meditation Framework™ is an online guided meditation training designed to produce confident guided meditation facilitators in 6 weeks. Whether you are a novice or have lead meditations before, meditation facilitator training will hone your ability to deliver & expand your concept of how this versatile skill set can be utilized to increase your effectiveness as a leader in personal development.

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