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Buddhist Psychology Training:
Scientific Intersections and Clinical Applications of Dharma

January – May 2023
with Matthew Brensilver, PhD

Program has filled.


Deepen your understanding of meditation and nourish your work with clients in this five-month training designed for clinicians, counselors, mindfulness teachers, and others providing mental health support. In this training, you’ll join a community of peers for an in-depth exploration of mindfulness, Dharma, and science that will support both your personal practice and your work with others.

Through periods of meditation, Dharma talks, discussion, small group explorations and clinical case studies, you will develop greater confidence in applying mindfulness-based interventions with clients, deepen your understanding of the intersections of Buddhism and psychology, and further cultivate your own meditation practice and tools for self-care.

This training includes an experiential investigation of our own life and practice as well as our roles as clinicians. It is ideal for people who want to explore their own minds and hearts as a springboard into best serving their clients, rather than those who are primarily seeking coaching on the implementation of mindfulness-based treatment manuals.

As counselors we know that only when one has truly made oneself a patient can one become a healer. Through our practice, we become the patient and come to understand, affirm, and ultimately, transform ourselves. It is this transformation that ripples outwards to our clients and community. This training brings both sides of ourselves—the patient and the healer—together as we practice and learn together.

The training will provide an immersion in Buddhist psychology and the meditation practices that illuminate our minds, foster goodness, and transform habits that compound suffering. We’ll dive into the scientific research on mindfulness and its increasing prominence in psychotherapeutic interventions, and explore data regarding the efficacy of mindfulness and the mechanisms through which mindfulness confers its benefits. The training will examine the convergences and tensions between clinical research and Buddhist psychology and describe ways to integrate mindfulness into treatment. We’ll consider possible contraindications of mindfulness and how to tailor the intervention to individuals. Please join us.

Course Outline and Themes

Each retreat day will consist of lectures, guided meditation practice, and exploration of the themes in small groups.

The themes addressed with include:

  • Exploration of construct of mindfulness as a state, trait and practice
  • The ways Buddhist practice can function as a psychotherapy and the ways it has aims outside the therapeutic realm
  • The hypothesized mechanisms of action of Buddhist practice - how the practice ‘gets under the skin’
  • The role of equanimity in developing emotional balance and growing freedom
  • Understanding the categories of meditation practice
  • How Buddhist practice supports emotion regulation
  • Buddhist wisdom in meeting shame
  • Approaches to anxiety and worry
  • How practice supports us to manage countertransference
  • Wise use of clinical and spiritual power
  • How Buddhist practice develops general clinical skills - listening, empathy, intuition - and supports the well-being of the people we serve
  • Teaching heart practices, including loving-kindness and compassion practices
  • The safety of mindfulness practices and efforts to avoid harm or adverse effects of practice
  • The fragility of identity and the teachings on anatta, or not-self
  • The relationship between self-love and anatta


  • General Prerequisite: Completion of at least one silent multi-day residential or multi-day online Insight Meditation retreat recommended by the start of the program (e.g. Spirit Rock, IMS, IRC, etc.)
  • Professional Prerequisite: This course is designed for those working in caregiving and mental health professions. This includes psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and mindfulness teachers.
  • Note, this program is by application. Participation in the program will be confirmed once program requirements and fit are verified.

Program Includes

  • Format: Online via Zoom
  • Commitment: two 2-day retreats, three 1-day retreats, and self-study.

Program Dates

Program training period is January – May 2023. Specific training dates below. All meeting times are: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

  • Sat-Sun, January 7-8
  • Sat, February 11
  • Sat, March 11
  • Sat, April 15
  • Sat-Sun, May 20-21

Participation and Attendance Guidelines

Your participation in this training is important. The cohesion of the group is an important aspect of this training, so participation serves both your own development as well as the group. We ask that you commit to the dates and to participate wholeheartedly.

For participants not wishing to receive CE credits: Attendance at both two-day retreats (January and May) is mandatory. We expect that all participants will also attend each monthly daylong, however, we understand that sometimes there are unavoidable emergencies. If a participant must miss one of the daylongs, they will need to watch the Zoom recording prior to the next retreat.

For participants wishing to receive CE credits: In order to receive Continuing Education Credits, participants must attend all sessions live, on time, and in full. Your attendance is tracked carefully to grant your CE credits. Board regulations prohibit partial credit for partial attendance, therefore, incomplete attendance nullifies CE credit eligibility. No exceptions. More information on Continuing Education (CE) credits below.

Continuing Education (CE) Credits Available

This program offers 18 CE credits for $180 applicable for psychologists and California licensed MFTs, LCSWs, LEPs, LPCCs, nurses, and chiropractors.

Teachings are appropriate for health care professionals as well as the general public. 

Learning Objectives for participating health care professionals-
At the end of the program you will better able to:

  • Describe at least two of the overlaps and differences between mindfulness-based treatment and Buddhist psychology
  • Describe the three clusters of meditative practice: attentional, constructive, deconstructive
  • List five types of emotion regulation
  • Describe the relevance of equanimity for emotional regulation
  • Describe how evolutionary biology informs contemporary understandings of emotion
  • Describe the parallels between Buddhist practice and exposure therapy
  • Explain the role of inflexible self-definition in the generation of difficult emotion
  • Explain the role of the brain’s default mode network and self-referential thought in emotional regulation
  • Describe Buddhist approaches to shame
  • Explain the differences between self-esteem and self-compassion
  • Describe how Buddhist practice is relevant for enhancing the therapeutic alliance
  • Describe three ways in which clinician mindfulness helps manage countertransference
  • Describe Buddhist approaches to anxiety

CEC Schedule: (All times in US Pacific Time)
Full attendance is required daily 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.  

January 7:
9:00am-9:30am - Guided meditation
2:00pm – 3:00pm – Discourse & Consultation

January 8, February 11, March 11, April 15, & May 20:
9:00am – 9:30am | Guided meditation
10:00am – 12:00pm |  Discourse
2:00pm – 3:00pm | Discourse & Consultation

May 21:
9:00am – 9:30am | Guided meditation
2:00pm – 3:00pm | Discourse & Consultation

Attendance Requirements: Attendance is tracked automatically and will be verified.  To be eligible for CE credits, participants are required to:

  • Register and pay for CECs by midnight the day before the program.
  • Attend in full: Join the program by Zoom App or web browser, not dialing in by phone, within the first 15-minutes of the start of the program, staying logged in and engaged for the duration of the program, for every session of the program;
  • To enable automated attendance tracking, please use the same email address used to register for the program to register for zoom and complete the evaluation;
  • Complete the online CEC evaluation within 1 week of receiving it - this is different from the course survey.  The CEC evaluation will be emailed within 1 week of the end of the program to all CEC participants who attended the program in full.
  • Participants who do not complete the online CEC evaluation within 1-week from receiving it will not be eligible for the Certificate of Attendance;
  • CEC participants with incomplete attendance will not be emailed the CEC evaluation. If a participant does not receive the CEC evaluation within one week of the program, it is the participants responsibility to contact Spirit Rock within two weeks of the end of the program if they believe their incomplete attendance record is inaccurate. CEC records are closed two weeks after the program.
  • It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure adequate internet reliability and bandwidth. Incomplete attendance nullifies CEC eligibility as board regulations prohibit partial credit for partial attendance. Certificates of Attendance are only available for those who complete the attendance requirement and submit their electronic evaluation within the stated time frame.

Important Notes:

  • If you are licensed by a board different than those listed on the program description, and your governing board does not accept the credits, you will not be eligible for a refund or credit for the fees paid, nor will Spirit Rock or the Spiritual Competency Academy be responsible.
  • The CEC fee is not refundable.


  • Sliding scale: $2000-$5000
  • Scholarship rate: $750 and $1650. Scholarships are very limited and reserved for those who are truly experiencing financial hardship. Program fees include financial support for the teacher.

Cancellation Policy

$75 non-refundable, flat fee for all applicants on or before Dec 1, 2022 (deducted from a 25% minimum deposit)
15% fee* = Dec 2, 2022 - Jan 6, 2023
30% fee* = Jan 7 - 15, 2023
No refunds = On or after Jan 16, 2023
*Fee deducted from refund; fee is a percentage of the total amount agreed to pay.

Matthew Brensilver

Matthew Brensilver, PhD, served as a Buddhist chaplain at USC and teaches about the intersection of mindfulness and mental health at UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center and with Mindful Schools. He serves on the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, and completed the Spirit Rock/IMS teacher training program and regularly offers retreats at Spirit Rock and the Insight Retreat Center. He spent years doing research on addiction treatment at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine and continues to be interested in the unfolding dialogue between dharma and science.

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Join us in this five-month immersion in Buddhist psychology and the meditation practices that illuminate our minds, foster goodness and transform habits that compound suffering. 
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