Mindfulness & Resilience

Mindful Self-Compassion

9 week virtual course and retreat

No previous experience is required to attend this Program

This program has been cancelled.

Questions? Contact us at cme@mcmaster.ca

Course Description

Increasingly, health care institutions are coming under pressure to do more with less, to provide quality care with less resources and to improve the experience of patients and their families.

As a result, many health-care workers find themselves grappling with increased levels of stress, burnout, compassion/empathy fatigue and conflict within their teams and colleagues.

There is a way to create workplaces that both support physician/staff/learner; one that creates resilience and enables compassionate care not only for patients but for fellow co-workers as well.

This mindfulness course is an experiential curriculum for all health care providers. The program uses didactic teaching, experiential work including group, large and small, interpersonal work as well as individual work. We will meet for 2 1/2 hours each Tuesday and will have a half day retreat. To receive the most benefit from the program, participants are advised to attend every session along with the retreat and to develop a mindfulness practice each day during the program.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Develop mindfulness practices

  • Develop self and other observational tools thus improving one’s relationship with self and others

  • Learn to manage suffering and difficult emotions

  • Learn the skills to start to develop self-compassion, self-care behaviors, set realistic personal boundaries to help prevent burnout

  • Promote resilience, health and well-being within the self and the health care environment

About Mindful
Self-Compassion

Mindful Self-Compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, motivate ourselves with kindness, forgive ourselves when needed, relate wholeheartedly to others, and be more authentically ourselves. Increased self-compassion improves compassion for others.
  • Motivate yourself with kindness rather than criticism
  • Handle difficult emotions with greater ease
  • Transform challenging relationships, old and new
  • Manage caregiver fatigue
  • Practice the art of savouring and self self-appreciation

Multiple studies have shown that 30-60% of physicians and other health care providers are experiencing significant levels of professional and personal distress, including burnout, emotional exhaustion, and low self-accomplishment. Burnout has been linked to many adverse outcomes including poor quality of care, increased errors and decreased ability to demonstrate empathy.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to read more.

Cancellation Policy: McMaster University, Program for Faculty Development reserves the right to cancel a course due to insufficient registration or any circumstances beyond our control. Cancellations received prior to January 21st, 2021 will be refunded minus a 25% administrative fee. No refunds will be issued for cancellations received after this date.

Course Faculty

Barbara Smith, MFA, GIT, MS. Psych, CRPO - Registered Psychotherapist in private practice and mental health counsellor with the Hamilton Family Health Team. Barbara has been involved in contemplative studies for over 4 decades and has extensive training and experience in Mindfulness. She has trained in MBSR, DRAM (Discovering Resilience Through Applied Mindfulness), Mindful Communication at the University of Rochester, NY, is a trained MSC (Mindful Self-Compassion) teacher and studied with Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer. She presently teaches Mindful Self-Compassion and Mindful Communication courses in Hamilton. Barbara is part of the executive of Mindfulness Hamilton, has studied with Michael Stone and the application of mindfulness in clinical practice and has studied with Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hanh. She has extensive professional experience as a group leader.

Valerie Spironello MSW RSW - Valerie has been a social worker for over 30 yrs. including working in health care, child welfare and family violence. She has a private practice offering counselling and workshops to support others in living well. (choosewellness.ca). Valerie is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine. She is trained in: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction; Mindful Self-Compassion; Mindful Communication; Transformative Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation in Clinical Practice. She has studied and taught at the University of Toronto Applied Mindfulness program and teaches through McMaster PFD. Valerie has attended, as well as co-led, numerous meditation courses/retreats, and has a long standing personal meditation practice. Her wish is to support others in learning about this life-changing practice.

More about Mindful Self Compassion


How can the individuals who choose this “helping” profession thrive in the face of personal and work stresses? As we meet suffering in clinical practice, can we practice building resilience rather than cynicism and exhaustion? Who of us has not left themselves out in the process of caring for others? Who does not have an inner critic that barks at us periodically? Who has difficulty navigating stress or conflict in interpersonal relationships?
Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is an empirically-supported, (evidenced based) 9-week, training program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion. Based on the ground-breaking research of Kristin Neff and the clinical expertise of Christopher Germer, MSC teaches core principles and practices that enable participants to respond to difficult moments in their lives with kindness, care and understanding.
The three key components of self-compassion are self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and balanced, mindful awareness. Kindness opens our hearts to suffering, so we can give ourselves what we need. Common humanity opens us to our essential inter-relatedness, so that we know we aren’t alone. Mindfulness opens us to the present moment, so we can accept our experience with greater ease. Together they comprise a state of warm-hearted, connected presence.Self-compassion can be learned by anyone. It is a courageous attitude that stands up to harm, including the harm that we unwittingly inflict on ourselves through self-criticism, self-isolation, or self-absorption. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, motivate ourselves with kindness, forgive ourselves when needed, relate wholeheartedly to others, and be more authentically ourselves.
Rapidly expanding research demonstrates that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional well-being, less anxiety, depression and stress, maintenance of healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and satisfying personal relationships and increased compassion for others.