Expanding MBCT to Latin America: Training will now be available in Uruguay

Expanding MBCT to Latin America: Training will now be available in Uruguay

Matilde Elices, a Uruguayan psychologist and mindfulness teacher, explains the collaboration with the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC, University of Oxford) to deliver MBCT training in Uruguay (Latin America) for the first time.

In 2019, the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC, University of Oxford), will deliver, for the first time in a Spanish-speaking country, modules 1 and 2 of the training pathway. This will be possible thanks to the collaboration established between the OMC and two Latin American (LA) organizations: Menta Aberta (Brazil) and MBCT Uruguay (Uruguay).

Matilde Elices, a Uruguayan psychologist and mindfulness teacher, is the author of this blog piece, in which she talks about her background and what has moved her and her colleagues to bring MBCT to Uruguay.


During my last years of education as a clinical psychologist in Uruguay, I became more and more interested in learning and applying third wave psychological approaches. At that time in Uruguay there was a strong psychoanalytic tradition, so these approaches were not popular among university students.

Motivated by my interest in research, in 2010 I moved to Barcelona (Spain) to do a PhD in Psychiatry. I was very lucky and Joaquim Soler, a renowned psychotherapist and mindfulness researcher, supervised my doctoral dissertation. This work was focused on the application of mindfulness in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). For almost six years, I was able to work with him in the BPD Unit, teaching mindfulness from a DBT perspective.

Little by little, I got more immersed in the “mindfulness world”. My personal practice was growing and I started to attend to my first retreats. To me, mindfulness was, from the beginning, both part of my personal life and my work as a clinician and a researcher. In that journey, MBCT draw my attention. I think that there are two aspects of MBCT that were especially appealing to me. The first one is, that unlike other mindfulness programs, MBCT is rooted in a psychological theory of depression and is focused on how to teach mindfulness to individuals who struggled with depression in the past. The second one, is related to the accumulated evidence in regards to the efficacy of MBCT. As a clinical researcher, I think that the “science behind” each therapeutic approach is essential. Then, I decided to begin my training as an MBCT teacher and I enrolled to the Teacher Training Pathway. I began to teach MBCT 8 weeks courses, mainly in clinical settings. And more recently, I began a line of research dedicated to explore aspects related to the implementation of MBCT in primary care in Spain.

In parallel, Joaquim Soler introduced me to Marcelo Demarzo, a pioneer in the implementation of mindfulness in Brazil. Marcelo told us that he, and his centre “Mente Aberta”, were collaborating with the OMC to deliver MBCT in Brazil. When Joaquim and I heard of this, we immediately thought that collaborating with them to have MBCT in Uruguay would be a dream come true.  After many conversations, and with the fundamental administrative support of the OMC and Mente Aberta, we were able to put together this collaboration to deliver MBCT in Uruguay.

As a Uruguayan living abroad for almost 10 years now, I really enjoy to see the growing enthusiasm of mental health professionals in LA to learn new therapeutic tools, and, what is especially important, to deliver evidence-based approaches. The interest of Latin American professionals in mindfulness is growing and growing every day, and as Marcelo, there are other great mindfulness teachers and researchers working in Latin America. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to teach a half-day workshop on MBCT in Montevideo and in 2017 I was invited to the International Congress on Third Wave Cognitive Behavioural Therapies in Lima, Perú, also to teach a workshop on MBCT. Through these experiences I’ve got in contact with many LA professionals interested in MBCT. As a teacher myself, I feel very grateful of having had the opportunity to learn MBCT from wonderful, experienced and compassionate teachers both from the UK and Spain. Reflecting on my own experience, I think that having the opportunity to learn from experts, and to receive a training that is aligned with the highest international standards, is very important in acquiring fundamental tools to teach mindfulness. Therefore, we created MBCT Uruguay as a platform to support and encourage the access to MBCT in LA. With this training, we hope to engage LA mental health professionals in learning and experiencing MBCT.

Ultimately, our aim is to create and support a network of mental health professionals working with MBCT in LA. MBCT-Uruguay has been created with the objective to support this learning process, to disseminate MBCT in LA and to improve the access to MBCT among people from LA who might need it. We are convinced that this event will constitute the first step in a long-lasting and fruitful collaboration with the OMC and Mente Aberta. We hope to see you all in our training next October!

Details about the event:

Modules 1 and 2 will be taught in a residential retreat of 6 consecutive days (28 October to 2 November 2019) to be held in Montevideo, in a spacious and green area, close to the city centre. The retreat will be guided by Paul Bernard (OMC) and Thais Requito (Mente Aberta), with the collaboration of Marcelo Demarzo (Mente Aberta), Matilde Elices (MBCT Uruguay), and Joaquim Soler (MBCT Uruguay).

Spanish-speaking mental health professionals are welcome to send their applications!

Participants are invited to visit our webpage: www.mindfulnessuruguay.com

For inquiries regarding the training, please contact us at: mbcturuguay@gmail.com

Author sketch
Matilde Elices holds a PhD in Psychiatry. She has been trained in MBCT in the UK and Spain. She currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Mar Institute of Medical Research.