Offered by the Department of Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.

Meditation and Mindfulness in Clinical Practice: Enhancing Treatment Effectiveness and Personal Wellbeing

Susan M. Pollak, MTS, Ed.D

July 26 – 30, 2021 • Monday – Friday
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Mindfulness meditation is currently one of the most widely researched treatment methods in mental and behavioral health. Clinical research has demonstrated its effectiveness for managing a wide range of conditions associated with emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, and substance abuse, as well as enhancing physical and psychological wellbeing. Research has also shown that mindfulness meditation can positively change the structure and function of the brain, reduce stress hormones, and enhance the immune system. Mindfulness (awareness of present experience with acceptance) has been intensively researched over the past 20 years and is currently considered the new generation of empirically-supported behavior therapy. Compassion, and now Self-Compassion is a cutting-edge of mindfulness research and training.

Although scientific research on meditation can be traced to the early 1970’s, the relatively recent surge of research on mindfulness has left many medical and mental health professionals curious, and perhaps unclear, about what exactly is meant by mindfulness in the present context, how to practice and teach it their patients, and the evidence base to support it.

The purpose of this course is to offer participants an up-to-date review of the theory, research, and practice of mindfulness in health care (including its application to the practice of psychotherapy), to increase the effectiveness of behavioral treatment, enhance the wellbeing of clinicians, and cultivate positive attitudes associated with patient care.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  • Explain how mindfulness and acceptance-based treatment is grounded in empirically-supported psychotherapy;
  • Discuss the mechanisms of action in meditation that appear to underlie positive, therapeutic change, such as attention regulation, emotion regulation, and self-compassion;
  • Describe new research findings on mind/brain training through mindfulness meditation;
  • Identify the four main forms of meditation— concentration, mindfulness, compassionate acceptance and equanimity—and know when to apply them in clinical settings;
  • Discuss the ways mindfulness can be distorted when it enters the mainstream;
  • Identify common mechanisms in psychological disorders and how mindfulness practices can alter them;
  • Customize meditation practices for individual patients, i.e., those with anxiety, depression, and trauma, and stress-related medical disorders;
  • Determine whether Mindful Self Compassion can help those with chronic pain;
  • Explain how mindfulness and compassion can help with the stress of parenting;
  • Apply the practices and principles of meditation to enhance the therapeutic relationship and personal wellbeing.


Susan M. Pollak, MTS, Ed.D is co-founder, senior teacher and advisor at the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Pollak was the President of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy from 2010-2020. She is the co-editor of The Cultural Transition; contributing author to Mapping the Moral Domain; Evocative Objects; and Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Dr. Pollak is co-author, with Thomas Pedulla and Ronald Siegel, of Sitting Together: Essential Skills for Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy. Dr. Pollak is co-author, with Thomas Pedulla and Ronald Siegel, of Sitting Together: Essential Skills for Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy. Her most recent book is Self-Compassion for Parents: Nurture Your Child By Caring for Yourself.

Date and timeAgenda Item
Monday, July 26
9:30am – 10:00amRegistration
10:00am – 11:15amOverview of Mindfulness: Definitions, types of meditation history in clinical practice. Why does Mindfulness work?
11:15am – 11:30amBreak
11:30am – 1:15pmBrain Mechanisms, default mode network, future directions of research; What happens when Mindfulness enters the mainstream?
Tuesday, July 27
10:00am – 11:15amThe Core Skills: Focusing the Mind; The benefits of developing Concentration. Practice Clinical Applications.
11:15am – 11:30amBreak
11:30am – 1:15pmOpen Monitoring. Expanding of the Mind. What are the benefits? Practice; Clinical Applications. Q&A.
Wednesday, July 28
10:00am – 11:15amOpening the Heart: Loving kindness and Compassion. How and why do we train these skills? Practice.
11:15am – 11:30amBreak
11:30am – 1:15pm Clinical Applications; Equanimity: Finding balance. The benefits of this skill. Practice. Clinical Application. Q&A.
Thursday, July 29
10:00am – 11:15amMindful Self-Compassion-The newest MBI.
11:15 – 11:30amBreak
11:30am – 1:15pmWorking with Anxiety, Depression, and Destructive Emotions: How Mindfulness and Compassion can help Clinical Application. Q&A.
Friday, July 30
10:00am – 11:15amWorking with Specific Populations.
11:15am – 11:30amBreak
11:30am – 1:15pmSelf-compassion for trauma, pain, parents. And, specific concerns of participants.