The course is offered by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre at the Oxford University Department of Psychiatry, in collaboration with the University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education. Successful completion of the course leads to an award of a Master of Studies by the University of Oxford.
Oxford has been internationally recognised as a centre of excellence in cognitive therapy (CT) research, treatment development and dissemination for nearly 20 years. It has an unusually rich concentration of acknowledged experts in CT and a first class reputation for providing high quality training courses and clinical supervision. A growing team of Oxford clinicians and researchers now specialise in MBCT, and have successfully developed and delivered a range of MBCT training events, including workshops, masterclasses, residential training retreats, a foundational training course, and a Master of Studies degree course. The Masters programme was initiated by Professor Mark Williams, one of the founders of MBCT, and the team includes Professor Willem Kuyken, a leading figure in the development of MBCT and the current Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.
The course is taught, part-time, over two years, and is organised in nine three or four-day teaching blocks (held in Oxford) and three residential training retreats (four days and seven days in Year I and seven days in Year II). In addition to the taught component, students will need to set aside 6-7 hours per week for private study, personal practice the meditations which are central to the MBCT programme, and completion of written assignments. Participants on courses with similar demands confirm that this time is crucial to completing the course successfully.
It provides opportunities for students to develop the practical skills they need in order to translate knowledge and understanding into competent MBCT practice, that is, students are expected to develop for themselves the understanding and skills they will be teaching to their course participants.
The course covers four main topic areas:
- Theory, including: relevant cognitive science (e.g. attention, memory, judgement, metacognition, executive function); clinical theory (e.g. cognitive theories of the development and maintenance of emotional disorder and the principles underlying MBCT); relevant aspects of Buddhist psychology and philosophy and their contribution to MBCT
- Research related to the ongoing development of MBCT, and investigating the areas of theory outlined above
- Clinical applications in a range of problem areas, for example, depression, pain, psychosis and working with young people
- Practice including the development of personal experience of mindfulness meditation, the capacity to relate this experience to theory and research, and the skills needed to instruct participants/clients in MBCT, drawing on relevant theory, research and clinical literature