Assessment, Orientation, & Ethics Workshop (Oxford, UK)

Workshop details

Course Leaders

Ruth Baer

How long is this Workshop?

One day from 9:30am to 5pm

Who is this Workshop for?

Teachers of MBCT and those training to teach MBCT

Where is this Workshop?

POWIC Building, Oxford

How many people on this Workshop?

Up to 30

How much does this Workshop cost?

£135 including lunch and refreshments

Available workshops:

1st Oct 2020

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Orientation, Assessment, and Ethics Workshop

1st October 2020

What is this Workshop about?

This is a two-part workshop. The morning session cultivates skills that mindfulness teachers need before a course begins: orienting potential participants to MBCT and gathering essential information about them. The afternoon session covers important ethical issues in the mindfulness field.


People who are thinking about participating in a mindfulness-based program (MBP) need information about the course. Part of the teacher’s job is to provide this information in helpful ways. Many teachers have websites describing the courses they offer. Some provide introductory group sessions or taster sessions. Others conduct individual pre-course interviews, in person or by phone. Each of these requires careful thought about what information should be provided and how it should be conveyed. Skilful orientation can help potential participants understand what to expect from the course and how it might help them. This can build interest, motivation and commitment in some participants while helping others decide that this is not the right course or the right time for them.


Just as participants need information about the course, teachers need information about potential participants. A mindfulness course may not be suitable for everyone who expresses interest. People with current suicidal thoughts, active misuse of substances, serious post-traumatic stress, recent bereavement, or other stressors might not benefit or might experience harmful effects. Skilful assessment enables teachers to decide who should be accepted onto the course and who should be referred elsewhere or advised to consider the course at another time. It also alerts teachers to aspects of participants’ histories and current concerns that may require monitoring as the course progresses.

Orientation and assessment are ethical necessities. They support the primary ethical imperative to do no harm as well as related principles such as informed consent, truth in advertising, and practicing within one’s scope of competence. Discussion of these points at the end of the morning session leads naturally into the afternoon session on ethics in MBPs.


This part of the day covers several important issues in the mindfulness field.

  1. Professional ethics for mindfulness teachers. Mindfulness teaching is not a regulated profession and does not yet have an established code of professional ethics. The Good Practice Guidelines state that mindfulness teachers should adhere to the ethical framework appropriate to their professional background and working context. However, mindfulness teachers have a variety of professional backgrounds, some of which do not have ethics codes applicable to mindfulness teaching. Familiarity with basic tenets of professional ethics is essential for mindfulness teachers.
  2. Harm and adverse events in MBPs. Research shows that harm can occur in some practitioners of meditation. Mindfulness teachers need an understanding of these issues and skills for working with difficulties that arise in their course participants.
  3. Ethical issues associated with Buddhist roots of MBPs. MBPs have roots in Buddhist traditions but are adapted for mainstream settings. Controversy sometimes arises about whether MBPs are too close to their Buddhist roots for some contexts or too far away from their Buddhist roots for others.
  4. Ethical communication about MBPs. Hype about mindfulness is common in today’s world. Mindfulness teachers need skills for speaking accurately about what the evidence shows and does not show and the potential risks and benefits of MBPs.

Ruth Baer

Ruth is a clinical psychologist and a mindfulness researcher, teacher, trainer, and practitioner. Following a long career as a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, she was very fortunate to move to Oxford to work with the OMC. Her interests include conceptualisation and assessment of mindfulness, effects of mindfulness-based programs, mechanisms of change, and professional training and ethics in the mindfulness field. She enjoys taking a broad perspective, and so she has studied a wide range of mindfulness-based interventions, including MBCT and MBSR as well as DBT, ACT, and MBRP.

Ruth’s work at the OMC includes teaching, training, and research. She’s the lead for the non-academic teacher training pathway and also work with the Master of Studies in MBCT. She teaches mindfulness courses for the general public and for Oxford students and staff, and works with competency assessment. On the research side, Ruth collaborates on manuscripts based on the data coming in from the MYRIAD project and other projects with OMC colleagues.