Our Good Practice Guidelines for Supervisors

What is Mindfulness Supervision?

Mindfulness supervision is regular space that is contracted between supervisor and supervisee which enables reflection on the supervisee’s mindfulness teaching practice and how this interfaces with their personal mindfulness practice and their life. The process is dedicated to developing and deepening the growth, understanding and effectiveness of the supervisee’s application of mindfulness, both personally and in their working life.

The Mindfulness Network sets high standards for its supervisors. The specific training, background and experience that we expect from our supervisors is set out below.

A. Mindfulness-based teaching, training and experience

Our supervisors are expected to fulfil the UK Network for Mindfulness-based Teacher Training Organisations’ Good Practice Guidelines for Teaching Mindfulness-Based Courses. (Please note that the UK Network for Mindfulness-based Teacher Trainer Organisations is a separate organisation, although we share many of the same values.) 

Supervisors are also expected to fulfil the following guidelines based on the UK Network’s Good Practice Guidelines for Trainers of Mindfulness-based Teachers (as supervision includes a training function, we have added or substituted the term supervisor for trainer for clarity):

  • To have had full teaching responsibility for at least nine mindfulness-based courses over a minimum of three years.
  • To be a proficient teacher of mindfulness-based courses as assessed by experienced colleagues and ideally through the use of the Mindfulness-based Interventions: Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC).
  • To continue to teach mindfulness-based courses to people with varying levels of experience as a teacher, as well as supervising teachers.
  • To have regular (strongly recommended monthly) supervision with an experienced mindfulness supervisor to reflect upon their teaching practice and its interface with their personal mindfulness practice.
  • To engage in peer relationships with other trainers and supervisors.
  • To attend annual retreats that facilitate practice at depth, some of which are at least 7-10 days in duration.
  • To stay up-to-date with the current and developing evidence base for mindfulness-based interventions, with a particular emphasis on the programme or programmes in which they offer supervision.
  • To be up-to-date with current methods of assessing mindfulness-based teaching competency and maintaining good practice.
  • To be steeped in the practice and understanding of mindfulness which is informed by both relevant current scientific and/or clinical understanding as well as its historical antecedents from relevant spiritual and philosophical traditions, the most common example of which is the Buddhist tradition.
  • To be a compassionate and strong team player who is willing to operate in the context of a supervision team and in connection with others who are supervising teachers in the UK context.

Mindfulness-based teacher supervisors need well developed skills, understanding and attitudes in the following areas:

  • An experientially gained understanding of the complexity of mindfulness as an approach and its transformational potential.
  • An in-depth understanding of the aims and intentions of the full range of curriculum components within the mindfulness-based course they are training others to teach.
  • An understanding of the underlying theoretical principles of the mindfulness-based courses they are training others to teach.
  • An understanding and capacity to supervise others in the principles underpinning the adaptation of mindfulness-based courses to different contexts and populations.
  • Skill in working with groups, especially the creation of a safe and challenging learning environment.
  • The ability and skill to support trainees in identifying their strengths and learning needs, and to provide feedback that facilitates new learning.
  • An understanding of the complex interface between MBAs taught in a therapeutic context and mindfulness taught in traditional or specific cultural contexts, and a commitment to being transparent regarding which context(s) mindfulness teaching/training is being offered.
  • The ability and knowledge to work within the ethical framework of his/her profession or training and to have particularly developed sensitivities in relation to:
    – Only supervising within the limits and boundaries of competence
    – Only asking supervisees to engage in an appropriate kind and amount of informal and formal practice (i.e. no more than the supervisor themself would practice).

B. Supervision and Training experience

Our supervisors need to:

  • Have completed mindfulness-specific supervision training (minimum of 3 days training).
  • Work within a Mindfulness-based Supervision Model.
  • Engage in on-going continuing professional development in mindfulness supervision with an experienced mindfulness supervisor, including engaging in “Supravision,” which is the supervision of supervision.
  • Have on-going study and guidance with a teacher or teachers to support a deepening of the supervisor’s personal mindfulness practice. This might include interviews or meetings with a teacher on teacher-led retreats; on-going dialogue with a teacher experienced in meditation; and/or guidance and study with an experienced mindfulness supervisor who has these skills and experience.
  • Have a sustained and on-going personal mindfulness practice that includes the body scan, mindful movement and sitting practice.
  • Be trained in and familiar with the use of the Mindfulness-Based Interventions:Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC).

C. Clinical/Contextual background

Ideally the supervisor will be clinically trained and/or have life experience in the field or context to be supervised.

Please note that if the supervisor is not trained or qualified in the clinical field being supervised, the supervisor will limit his/her supervision to non-clinical areas of mindfulness content and process.

Clinical responsibility is always to be held by a separate clinical supervisor and this must be clearly detailed in the supervision contract.

D. Specific Competencies for Mindfulness-based supervision

Our supervisors will have the following:

  • Knowledge and understanding of ethical and professional practice.
  • Competence in working with difference.
  • Ability to set up a Supervision Contract, identifying and taking into account the supervisory needs of:
    – The nature of the work, context and specialist skills required (e.g. working with cancer, chronic pain, etc., supervision of Masters students)
    – The organisational context (NHS, Voluntary Sector, Private Practice, Education, Workplace, etc.)
    – The Supervisee’s mindfulness practice and mindfulness teaching developmental needs
  • Ability to set up Session Contracts.
  • Ability to develop and maintain a working alliance.
  • Ability to identify supervisee’s level of competence and learning needs.
  • Ability to enable the supervisee to reflect and present supervision material.
  • Ability to give accurate and constructive feedback and to challenge bad practice where necessary.
  • Ability to write reports on the supervisee’s development, if agreed in the contract and if necessary.
  • Ability to reflect on own work as a supervisor; identify own training and supervisory needs; and identify own limits in terms of specific specialities, contexts and own mindfulness practice development.
  • Ability to conduct supervision in different formats: group, individual, peer, telephone, Skype and face-to-face.
  • Ability to help the supervisee to practise specific mindfulness skills, including incorporating mindfulness practice into the supervision sessions when appropriate.
  • Ability to supervise the development of the supervisee’s personal mindfulness practice.
  • Ability to draw on own mindfulness practice and employ a mindfulness Inquiry process to facilitate the supervisee’s learning.
  • Ability to incorporate direct observation and observation through DVDs into the supervision.
  • Familiarity with and ability to use MBI:TAC as a training tool and as an evaluation tool.