Teacher Training for Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Teens & Young Adults (MFY)
Faculty: Karen Bluth, Ph.D. & Lorraine Hobbs, MA
Making Friends With Yourself (MFY) is an empirically-supported 8-week program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion in teens. MFY teaches core principles and practices that enable teens to respond to the challenges of these critical years with kindness and self-compassion. Adolescence is a time of change and growth. It is the period of life reserved for rebellion and self-discovery, but as the demands in life increase for teens, this time is often fraught with confusion, anxiety or depression. For many teens, these challenges lead to disconnection and isolation.
The MFY program is designed to facilitate awareness, self-kindness and an understanding of our common humanity in response to these growing challenges. Through developmentally appropriate activities and carefully crafted practices and meditations, teens have an opportunity to learn how to navigate the emotional ups and downs of life with greater ease. This program creates an opportunity for teens to bring greater compassion and empathy toward themselves and others. Preliminary research studies have shown that this program demonstrated a significant decrease in depression, anxiety, perceived stress and negative mood and increases in resilience and ability to embrace new challenges with greater ease.
“So like stressful situations and stuff happens. Or tests or skating competition or whatever. I’m able to handle it more easily and more quickly, and able to, I don’t know, to calm myself down and put it into perspective.” – Teen participant
Self-compassion can be learned by any teen, and is particularly helpful to those encountering any kind of emotional struggles. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing teens to begin to be kinder to themselves amidst their suffering.
“It’s cool to see after we took [the class] how much life in general has improved, like not necessarily the situations, but the ways I can handled it. This is so important, so I’m going to take it [the program] again and then maybe make it even better.” – Teen participant
This curriculum was adapted from the adult Mindful Self-Compassion created by Drs. Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer, and has been endorsed by the founders.
MFY Teacher Training
The MFY Teacher Training is an intensive, 7-day program facilitated by the creators of the program, Lorraine Hobbs, MA and Karen Bluth, PhD. The training is built around the eight weekly classes, followed by small group activities designed to give attendees opportunities to practice teaching, guiding and facilitating discussion of that session with the close consultation of the teacher trainers. In addition, the training includes short talks and group exercises. An essential part of the training also includes how to include parents in how they can support their teens throughout the program, which helps prepare participants to work with potential resistance and anxiety in teens. This intervention can help prevent the daily practice from becoming a potential battleground between a parent and teen. Participants will be provided with the essential materials to teach MFY.
At the completion of the MFY Teacher Training, participants will be able to:
- Identify the core themes and practices presented in each of the eight sessions of MFY
- Understand the rationale for the modifications made from the adult MSC program
- Describe different ways of involving parents so that they can appropriately engage and support their teens in their practice
- Identify obstacles for teens to learning mindful self-compassion practice and strategies for overcoming these obstacles
- Deepen one’s understanding of key elements in teaching mindfulness and self-compassion practice to teens
This 7-day intensive is intended for those who wish to teach the MFY program in an educational, clinical, or community setting.
The prerequisites for taking the MFY Teacher Training are:
- Established daily mindfulness and self-compassion practice,
- Completion of a 5-day or 8-week MSC Course,
- Experience working with teens in an educational or clinical setting.
“Words cannot express the gratitude I feel as I begin to settle into this new, wide world of self-compassion for teens. Lorraine Hobbs and Karen Bluth wove together their two worlds to create a program that is fun, informative, engaging and transformative.” Celedra Gildea, teacher training participant, San Diego (April 2016):
“I, too, was one of the fortunate ones to be participate in the first teacher training of Making Friends with Yourself (MFY). It was an absolute gift to see the beautiful sequencing of this material, as well as the heartfelt incorporation of so many of the key components of MSC. Karen and Lorraine’s work on this program demonstrate an exquisite example of development of curriculum for a new population… I was touched to see the beautiful duo of Karen and Lorraine, as co-teachers/trainers they modeled genuine love and respect for each other and a deep trust and knowledge of the material. It is an exciting and hopeful time for MFY.” Michelle Bobowick, teacher training participant, San Diego (April 2016):
- The design and structure of the MFY Teacher Certification pathway is currently underway. If you plan on pursuing MFY certification, please refer to the guidelines for MSC trained teachers (http://centerformsc.org/teach-msc/), with the provision that there will be changes appropriate to the MFY teacher training.
- You do not have to be a mental health clinician to take the MFY Teacher Training, but it is important to have had clinical or educational experience with teens.
- Upon completion of the MFY Teacher Training, participants receive a Certificate of Attendance stating that he or she has attended the MFY TT in its entirety and can begin to teach MFY as a Teacher Trainee.
Trained Teacher of MFY Designation
The purpose of the 7-day MFY Teacher Training is to establish a basic level of training and proficiency sufficient to begin offering the program to the public. To receive MFY Trained Teacher status, graduates of the Teacher Training are also expected to receive consultation while teaching at least one 8-week MFY program, either by co-facilitating with a certified MFY teacher or through online group consultation offered through the UCSD Center for Mindfulness Professional Training Institute. All Trained Teachers are eligible to be listed on the Center for MSC website in a directory of Trained Teachers and the Making Friends With Yourself website.
The MFY program is ideally led by two instructors, particularly if the size of the group is 12 or over. This model enables one instructor to monitor the emotional needs of individual participants while the other is teaching. When teens struggle, they tend to resist in the form of isolation, withdrawal, non-attendance or an attitude of non-compliance. These behaviors or attitudes can reflect a natural coping style that can be worked with through the process of inquiry. We know that self-compassion can activate strong emotions, and it is important for teachers to be able to hold a safe container with self-awareness and embodied presence while simultaneously supporting the individual and the group. We therefore recommend that one of the teachers, or an assistant to the MFY teacher, be a licensed mental health clinician. We realize that some groups may have members with relatively minor emotional needs, or be too small to require two teachers, so please use your own judgment about how to provide a safe and supportive learning environment.
MFY Teacher Training Participant Guidelines
Our ability to teach others depends largely on discovering the power of self-compassion in our own lives and embodying the practice. Since the core principles and practices of the MFY program are taught through experiential learning, just as they are in the MSC teacher training, participants are encouraged to focus on their felt experience during training. Ample time will also be allocated for professional dialogue and the nuts and bolts of teaching.
The MFY program is a journey—an adventure in self-discovery and self-kindness. Loving kindness and self-compassion training helps us soothe and comfort ourselves as it paradoxically reveals emotional distress we may have been unconsciously holding inside, often for many years. As we begin this journey of teaching teens how to grow in their capacity to embrace difficult emotions, it is important to have our own experience to draw from. As many of you know, teens require authenticity, transparency and creditability, and a strong practice of our own enables us to support the journey of these young minds and hearts with more depth and wisdom.
Self-compassion thrives in an environment of safety, support, privacy, individual responsibility, and a common commitment to presence and compassion. Self-compassion practice should also be easy and enjoyable. The teacher trainers are dedicated to creating such a learning atmosphere for all workshop participants and their future students.
Over the past few years, mindfulness for teens has moved into the mainstream in the general population and is being increasingly integrated into professional practice (e.g., schools, psychotherapy practices, inpatient units, hospitals, pediatric offices, sports, chronic pain, etc.). As the demand grows, the demand for quality professional training in these practices and techniques is growing each year. Self-compassion is at the growth edge of mindfulness. It’s a “trending health term” (Reader’s Digest, 2012) and an area of burgeoning research. Self-compassion is the emotional heart of mindfulness. There is substantial and impressive scientific evidence supporting the connection between self-compassion and emotional wellbeing for adults, and recent research in youth has shown similar effects. This increasing demand supports the need for explicit training in self-compassion, offered through the MFY Teacher Training.