Course Information

Compassion: International MBCL Foundation Course with Frits Koster

When: 21 Sep 2021 - 14 Dec 2021
Where: Online Event
Tutors: Frits Koster, Barbara Hussong


21st and 28th September; 12th, 19th and 26th October; 9th and 16th November; 7th and 14th December 2021.


18.30 - 20.45 pm UK time. Please arrive online a few minutes before 18.30.

Please note, UK time will change from BST (British Summer Time) to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) on October 31st 2021.

What is Compassion?

Compassion is the capacity to be sensitive to the suffering of ourselves and others and the willingness to relieve and prevent it (Paul Gilbert, 2014). It is a capacity inherent in all of us but for many reasons does not always come to flourish. Fortunately, it can be trained, developed and deepened through practice.  Compassion is characterised by kindness and receptivity as well as courage and responsibility. Many believe compassion should be directed towards others rather than ourselves but self-compassion is not selfish. Research increasingly shows that self-compassion is – like mindfulness – key to mental health and goes hand in hand with greater openness and empathy towards others.

What is Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL)?

MBCL is a mindfulness-based programme that supports the development and training of compassion (including self-compassion) to enhance physical, emotional andrelational health and well-being. It is grounded in science and integrates work of Paul Gilbert (Compassion Focused Therapy) and Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer (Mindful Self-Compassion) as well as elements of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Positive Psychology. The MBCL programme is suitable as an advanced course after having followed a mindfulness training (MBSR, MBCT or equivalent). It is similarly structured and consists of eight weekly sessions of 2.5 hours, offering explicit exercises to nurture compassion for oneself and others. The training can be particularly supportive for people suffering from shame and self-criticism, social isolation, depression, anxiety, trauma, chronic pain or illness. It was originally developed in a mental health setting but the scope of its application extends much further. It can be helpful to anyone – care-seeker or care-giver – wishing to deepen mindfulness with ‘heartfulness’.

What does the online MBCL programme offer?

In this online course, participants will experience key features of the eight sessions of the MBCL curriculum, including the main themes and major exercises.

Themes include: the evolutionary perspective and multi-layered brain; the three basic emotion regulation systems and the value of training our soothing system; expanding the stress theory with the psychological equivalents of fight, flight, freeze and their antidotes self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness of suffering; tend and befriend; cultivating a compassionate mind and an inner helper rather than an inner bully; overidentifying and disidentifying; Four Friends for Life: loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.Exercises include: soothing breathing rhythm, compassionate imagery (safe place, compassionate companion, embodying compassion); dealing compassionately with resistance, desire and unhelpful patterns; loving kindness towards ourselves and others; compassionate breathing; a compassionate bodyscan; walking and moving with kindness; compassionate letter writing; practicing sympathetic joy, gratitude, forgiveness and equanimity; informal practices in daily life.

During the online course, relevant scientific insights underpinning compassion training will be interwoven in the teaching.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will have experienced the main exercises of the MBCL programme as a first step to understand their meaning for their personal and professional lives.
  • Participants will have a basic understanding of the content, the main themes and scientific background of the MBCL programme.
  • Participants will have a basis to further cultivate and deepen (self-) compassion practice for personal and professional benefit and continue with MBCL Teacher Training seminars, if they wish to.

MBCL Teacher Training

Teacher training seminars are increasingly offered across Europe, either in 2 modules of 3,5 days or in one residential retreat of 7 days. Click here for dates of the MBCL Teacher Training (English speaking) in different countries in Europe, in Turkey and in the USA. Completion of at least the first four sessions of the online MBCL programme is a requirement for participating in a Teacher Training curriculum. To become an MBCL teacher one should be a certified mindfulness (MBSR or MBCT) teacher. However, many professionals who are not mindfulness teachers can benefit from the seminars to deepen mindfulness-based and compassion focused interventions and enhance their therapeutic skills in individual or group work.


Participants will be requested to buy the MBCL workbook:  A practical guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living - Living with Heart by Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster, with Victoria Norton, 2018. London/New York: Routledge.

More literature on MBCL:

The MBCL programme is also extensively described in Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living: A new training programme to deepen mindfulness with heartfulness by Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster, 2015 London/New York: Routledge.

Participant Requirements

  • Participants are expected to be familiar with basic mindfulness practice, preferably by having followed an eight-week mindfulness training (MBSR, MBCT or equivalent). The online programme is not suitable for participants without mindfulness meditation experience.
  • Participants can be mindfulness teachers, psychologists, psychotherapists, doctors, social workers, counselors and coaches and are expected to have a professional interest in the applications of (self-) compassion.
  • Participants are expected to be responsible for themselves and willing to deepen their self-inquiry by engaging in experiential exercises, to share experiences and engage in mindful dialogue with the teacher and each other; all in an unforced way.
  • The programme will be in the English language.


21st and 28th September; 12th, 19th and 26th October; 9th and 16th November; 7th and 14th December 2021.


18.30 - 20.45 pm UK time. Please arrive online a few minutes before 18.30.

Please note, UK time will change from BST (British Summer Time) to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) on October 31st 2021.


The training will be delivered via Zoom.

A Zoom link will be sent nearer to the start date. Participants will receive a confirmation email with information about how to join online meetings via Zoom; use of a laptop or equivalent well-functioning device is recommended.

Fee options:

Standard rate is £370

Employer's rate is £420

Employer's rate - Recognising the large administrative overhead of dealing with employers, we will be adding a £50 surcharge if the employer is paying directly; where possible we would advise applicants to pay themselves and reclaim on expenses to avoid the charge. 

The application and payment process:

Our application and payment process involves the following steps:

  1. We receive your application form and assess it to ensure this event is suitable for you. We endeavour to make assessments within a week but if the event leader is on annual leave or on retreat then this can take a little bit longer.
  2. Upon offering you a place we will then invoice you.
  3. Your place is fully confirmed once we receive your full payment.
  4. We will email you the joining instructions in advance of the course.

Payment and Cancellation Policy:

Please read our Terms and Conditions for information regarding payments and cancellations.

For more information:

Please email us at

Click here to sign up to our waiting list - unfortunately this event is now full.