Its Journey, Its Future
BY KAREN ATKINSON, DIRECTOR OF MINDFULNESS UK
It has been my privilege and delight to have been in a position to witness and play a part in the provision of Mindfulness in the UK and internationally over the last couple of decades. In some respects, the delivery of Mindfulness has now come full circle.
Initially mindfulness was being used within the mental health setting. This is where I became familiar with it as a therapeutic intervention for people suffering with clinical levels of anxiety, depression, stress and chronic pain conditions. For many years I worked one-to-one with people suffering with these difficulties, using mindfulness and compassion skills in a very effective way to enable people to change their relationship with their condition as a result of this new, third wave approach to care and management.
About 10 years ago mindfulness evolved from the province of the clinical setting into the secular mainstream, with more and more people accessing the practices via teacher led groups such as the MBSR/MBCT courses. These courses now form a basis for other programmes such as Mindfulness- Based Childbirth and Parenting, Minding Your Health, Mindfulness at Work, Mindful Eating Courses, Mindfulness in Schools and many more.
Technology has also helped considerably in supporting the accessibility of mindfulness via apps, downloads and YouTube etc. The use of these shorter practices can be extremely helpful in bringing one’s attention to the present moment and developing coping strategies to alleviate stress and anxiety.
However, the transformative qualities of mindfulness and compassion skills have the potential to be far deeper and more life changing. This shift is reflected with my clients, many of whom have already tried the shorter practices and want to develop upon the effects they have already experienced, realising the potential for change and growth.
The circle is completing as one to one teaching is being recognised as an empowering, therapeutic modality for a whole range of professionals, not just those in mental health, greatly enhancing the work of complementary therapists, yoga teachers and therapists, school teachers, workplace staff, allied health professionals, HR personnel, coaches, counsellors, healthcare professionals and staff within organisations.
Indeed, the Mindful Initiative was launched in October 2015, an all-party parliamentary report recommending mindfulness be introduced into four main sectors – health, education, the workplace and the criminal justice system. Due to the formalising of regulations for mindfulness teachers, the report has recognised the need for properly trained professionals to deliver these beneficial skills both in groups and one-to-one.
In response to the need for professionals to be skilled in assessing, delivering, monitoring and developing mindfulness and compassion to suit the individual or client group, MindfulnessUK (Provisional Member of the UK Network of Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations) developed and deliver this trail-blazing course, ‘Integrating Mindfulness and Compassion in Professional Practice’. Graduates gain a qualification at Foundation Degree Level with the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body. It is 200 hours long with 6 days of face to face teaching in London, Taunton, Bristol and Nottingham and additional directed home study.
The course has given graduates the skills and confidence to set up in private practice, change career roles, direction and jobs, teach abroad, offer more support to charities and promote their position within the workplace.