International Integrity Network for Mindfulness
WHO WE ARE
The international network of Mindfulness-Based Program Teacher Trainers and Teacher Organisations (named, for now, the International Integrity Network: IIN). This group has held meetings these past four years with relevant leaders within the mindfulness-based field of teachers, teacher trainers and training organisations, and has met to discuss and create different ways of meeting the needs for certification and accreditation. This has been an ongoing careful conversation regarding the international ethical integrity of, and standards for, offering secular mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) within our own contexts throughout the world. This conversation has included organisations from Asia Pacific, Europe, UK, South Africa, Canada, and the USA. From inception the intention has been to be an international collaborative and consultative process honouring and acknowledging individual, institutional, national, and regional contexts, recognising our successes and challenges.
The task of an international framework for the integrity and quality of Mindfulness-based Programs (MBP) brings awareness, appreciation and respect to all the work that has already been done over the past decade to maintain the integrity of this undertaking of bringing mindfulness practice into various sectors of society. These sectors include medicine and healthcare, and specifically psychology and psychiatry, education (K-12 and beyond), business, parenting and childbirth, aging, law, and government, first responders, and more. To acknowledge the scope of the placement of MBPs in current use is to set the stage for a broad and diverse range of applications. It is critical to keep this in mind since a large part of the task in creating standards for teaching and training must determine what, if any, changes in training and teaching are necessary to meet the needs of various populations. To do this well, the working committee holds that all MBP teaching and training should be rigorous, systematic, and thorough, involving the primary requirement of the teacher’s own mindfulness practice. The working committee has used, as its base, the vision and mission offered to us by seasoned MBP teachers and teacher-trainers who met in multiple global locations in 2015. These group meetings then went on to charge a small group of expert MBSR and MBCT teacher-trainers with taking the next steps for creating this beginning. The vision and mission says:
Our vision is to support teachers and trainers in maintaining the integrity of mindfulness-based programs that are grounded in awareness, compassion and wisdom upheld by an interconnected, diverse and global network dedicated to promoting health, well-being and ease for the benefit of all beings.
An international collaborative network of mindfulness-based teacher training organisations committed to maintaining integrity and upholding training standards of mindfulness-based programs supporting transformative inner work that allows all beings to flourish in our diverse world through the practice of mindfulness.
What we do
To globally regulate this kind of integrity and ethics, while honouring the individual wisdom and intentions of each teacher, the training organisations, and their founders, is a question that is worth all of us contemplating more deeply, and which will take more time and consideration.
Many of the participating organisations within our network already have clearly developed standards and criteria for teacher certification pathways, developed over many years, mutually supportive, and informed by growing evidenced-based scientific research outcomes. As this working group, the IIN has been collaborating to produce a Living Document, which we have attached to this letter. We wish to offer publicly, to all mindfulness teachers, teacher trainers, and aspiring MBP organisations, these developing documents that outline to date the essential guiding ethics and standards for teacher training within the MBP field. They frame an ongoing discussion for criteria that are subject to adaptations agreed to within regional or national networks of training institutes and teacher associations. We welcome all contact with us as this document continues to evolve.
Although, to our knowledge, we are the most internationally representative mindfulness teacher trainer network, we recognise that we still need input from important corners of the world and we are in the midst of rectifying this. We also recognise that whilst for some long established teacher training organisations these guidelines are imminently achievable, for other still developing training groups they remain aspirational and hopefully will provide a reference point for further development. These documents incorporate and acknowledge original work done by the CFM at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the UK Network’s Good Practice Guidelines, and in many countries of the European network EAMBA, in consultation with others around the world.
As the International Integrity Network our Vision and Mission remains: to be an international network that supports teachers and teacher trainers in maintaining the integrity of mindfulness based programs that are grounded in awareness, compassion and wisdom, upheld by an interconnected, diverse and global network dedicated to promoting health, well-being and ease for the benefit of all beings. Our values include those of transparency, kindness, generosity, authenticity, and accountability, grounded within an ethos of rigorous and ongoing training. Our mission is to attend to the training standards and accreditation of MBP training pathways, and to offer teachers and trainers support and educational services, while maintaining ethical standards and guidelines for good practice. We will also be documenting this further in greater depth with an article intended for completion soon, and hope to have greater public interaction with our new website that will become active in 2018.
We continue on this path of openness and inclusivity, welcoming of innovative, evidence-based, developing MBP programs worldwide. We strongly honour the depth, care, standards and attention to detail that longer-standing certifying bodies have taken in developing the relationships necessary for meaningful certification processes.
The International Integrity Network Committee
If you like what we do and want to know more
Standards and ethics
We’ve drawn upon the many standards, pathways, procedures and criteria that have been developed over many years, and put into practice in various organizations and trainings, with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) being primary exemplars in the field. As the most researched programs in the burgeoning discipline of mindfulness, and given the nascence of mindfulness as an intervention or educational process to promote well-being and reduce suffering, the importance of scientific evidence of program outcomes is a critical component to hold up in terms of programmatic quality, integrity, and teacher standards.
The critical work of the last year has been to compare and contrast, analyze and synthesize these standards and pathways in order to offer a comprehensive and robust set of minimal requirements for the teaching of MBPs and the training of MBP teachers. In support, Crane et al (2016) offers essential as well as flexible elements of MBPs that support clarity and congruency, including frameworks for adaptations in relation to various populations, contexts, and accessibility.
Many institutions’ criteria are far greater than these listed, and this will likely continue. There is some early research (Ruijgrok-Lupton, Crane, & Dorjee, 2017) that indicates that longer trainings have an impact on participant/student outcomes, and more research will likely impact how training and teaching continue to evolve.
Some of the critical research used by the Working Party is published and listed at the end of this document. Other papers are unpublished but are also included.
We have worked to be sensitive to the range of needs, constraints, economic and cultural realities in different parts of the world, and especially wish to acknowledge the thoughtfulness and wisdom of those who are working “on the ground,” in various locales, and bring salient views to the table. To give some examples: The duration of trainings has great variability if one compares, for instance, Europe, South Africa, and the US; accessibility to retreats is more difficult in the Australian outback and in Arabic countries than it is in Western and European regions; and also in Europe an America needs might differ slightly.
For these reasons the standards and criteria provided here are offered as a framework of criteria that may be subject to adaptions agreed upon in regional or national networks of training institutes or teacher associations (see Crane et al, 2016). In some cases, existing criteria may be deemed appropriate, but evolving, especially where economic or other resource realities simply have not allowed a more defined and detailed training program to take root. Placing ethics first in this document points towards the ethos of mindfulness, the very spirit of this work, which holds compassion, inclusion and ethical behavior as the primary impulse for our mindfulness practice, and from that, our teaching.
Holding to the primary ethos of MBPs was central to our task and both guided our discussions and meetings, and is named deliberately in the following Ethics area. We anticipate more and ongoing dialogue in all these areas and look forward to the kind of healthy dialogue that arises in a growing discipline, especially in an “industry” where the primary motivating factor is inclusion, well-being and the flourishing of an awake and compassionate human society.
Asia Pacific Network
UCSD CFM, USA
Institute for Mindfulness South Africa
Compassion Project, Canada
The Mindfulness Institute, Canada
UK Network for Mindfulness Based Teacher Training Organisations