Mindful Self-Compassion Course


The Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program is a journey—an adventure in self-discovery and self-kindness. Based on pioneering research by Kristin Neff and integrated with the clinical perspective of Chris Germer, MSC teaches core principles and practices that enable participants to respond to difficult emotions with kindness and understanding.

Self-compassion is the emotional attitude of mindfulness when we contact suffering. Whereas mindful awareness is typically directed toward moment-to-moment experience, self-compassion focuses on the experiencer. Mindfulness says, “Open to your suffering with spacious awareness and it will change.” Self-compassion adds, “Be kind to yourself in the midst of suffering and it will change.” Mindfulness asks, “What do I know?” and self-compassion asks, “What do I need?”

Self-compassion can be learned by anyone, even those who didn’t receive enough affection in childhood or who find it embarrassing to be kind to oneself. It’s a courageous mental attitude that stands up to harm, including the discomfort that we unwittingly inflict on ourselves through self-criticism, self-isolation, and self-rumination when things go wrong. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, forgive ourselves, and respond to ourselves and others with care and respect, and be fully human. Rapidly expanding research has clearly demonstrated that self-compassion enhances emotional well-being, reduces anxiety and depression, helps to maintain healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and is related to better personal relationships.

The MSC program is a journey—an adventure in self-discovery and self-kindness. Compassion has the paradoxical effect of both soothing and comforting as well as opening us to emotional distress that we may have been unconsciously holding inside, often for many years. Therefore, some difficult emotions are likely to surface during the program as we grow in our capacity to embrace and heal them. The teachers are committed to providing an environment of safety, support, privacy, individual responsibility, and a common commitment to developing compassion for oneself and others. It is recommended, but not required, that participants read the following two books before the training: Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristin Neff The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer

Mara Elwood is a Registered Arts Therapist and Certified teacher of Mindful Self, Compassion.  She has been teaching this programme for the past 7 years as 8-week and intensive programmes.  She has recently moved to Wellington where she has a private practice in Island Bay. Mara has been a mindfulness practitioner for over 20 years and has taught and worked with all ages. She has experience with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Transcendental Meditation, Non-Violent Communication (NVC), Focusing-Oriented Arts Therapy (FOAT), Nature-Based Expressive Arts, Soul Collage, Open Studio Process (OSP) and Mandala Assessment Research Instrument (MARI). 


Q What is Mindful Self-Compassion?

Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is a training programme developed by Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Christopher Germer that teaches the process of combining the skills developed through mindfulness with the emotional practice of self-compassion. These skills can be extremely valuable for mental health, and for preventing burnout for those working in the caring fields.

Q What does the programme involve?

Program activities include meditation, short talks, experiential exercises, group discussion, and home practices. The MSC program is not group therapy, although participants are encouraged to share their experiences on the path of mindful self-compassion. The emphasis of the program is on enhancing emotional resources and personal capacities.

Q If I am a mental health care provider can I use this in my practice?

You can definitely benefit for yourself through learning these skills, and your clients will benefit from the results. You may also be able to share the learned skills directly with your clients. Taking this programme satisfies one of the pre-requisites for undertaking teacher training in MSC.