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Mindfulness in the workplace

Following the growing evidence and success of the Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self Compassion and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy courses, programmes are now being integrated into a wide range of settings around the world. Google, Meta, IBM, Nike, Transport for London, NHS, The Department of Health, the Military, prisons, and also schools, are some of the organisations embracing mindfulness. 

When delivered by qualified mindfulness practitioners, courses are an investment in staff well-being.

Caring for the Carers - Self Compassion as a radical response

Blue light workers may be exposed to more obvious traumatic events but those in social work, mental health teams or third sector commissioned services also experience violence, hold high risk and responsibility while performing their role.

They are exposed to secondary traumatic stress (STS) by repeatedly hearing details of graphic trauma experienced by others. The occupational hazard of STS has been added in the revised post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

Structural issues of understaffing/ underfunding of services will impact the wellbeing of staff and be drivers of burnout which need addressing - and interventions that support staff through emotional demands will still be needed. Poor staff wellbeing impacts productivity, turnover, quality of care and patient safety.

Although the term “compassion fatigue” is commonly used in the caring professions, “Empathy fatigue” is more accurate. Neurologically - other’s pain activates our own pain processes. It’s experienced as our own when we empathise (Singer & Klimecki, 2014; Klimecki et al., 2013).

Self-compassion supports emotional regulation systems by allowing people to stay with difficult experiences without being overwhelmed. Yela et al. (2021) explains this reduction in experiential avoidance and increase in psychological flexibility as the key effect of MSC training.

Adapted Self-Compassion Training for Healthcare Communities

Michael West (2017) highlights complex challenges in the NHS “In the process of trying to respond to them we are damaging the health and wellbeing of the very people we ask to deliver the health and wellbeing of our communities”.  


Self-compassion interventions reduced practicing psychologists stress and burnout (Eriksson et al., 2018) while the full MSC increased self-compassion, compassion for others, and decreased secondary trauma and burnout in nurses (Delaney, 2018) and produced significant increases self-compassion and happiness in psychology trainees, with authors (Finlay-Jones et al., 2016) citing an ethical imperative to support staff to manage occupational stressors.


“Through compassion practice healthcare providers can learn how to be fully engaged with the suffering of the patient and yet not get emotionally drained. . . compassion is an empowered state” (Jinpa, 2017).

Although we would always recommend the full 8 week MSC course, the time requirements of the full “dose” of the MSC course may be a barrier to already overstretched services. A specific adaptation of MSC has been developed: Self-Compassion for Healthcare Communities (SCHC) by Neff et al., (2020) who found it significantly reduced secondary traumatic stress and burnout - and significantly increased self-compassion, mindfulness, compassion for others, and compassion satisfaction and decreased stress against a waitlist in a USA children’s hospital.  The authors note the fact that significant effects were found after a relatively brief training that did not involve meditation is “striking”.

SCHC is 1-hour sessions over 6 weeks, delivered in work time. It does not include meditation or homework, instead including practices to use during the working day.  Language is more acceptable and easier to connect to workers own personal distress – noticing “suffering” in MSC is replaced by “stress, difficulty or struggle” in SCHC as “suffering” relates more to patients and their families from the perspective of health workers. It can be delivered in person or online with Knox et al., (2022) finding that the online version is just as effective.

Currently Southsea Mindfulness are not delivering the adapted short version Healthcare SCHC course, please get in touch and we can connect you to organisations that can





American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

Delaney, M. C. (2018). Caring for the caregivers: Evaluation of the effect of an eight-week pilot mindful self-compassion (MSC) training program on nurses’ compassion fatigue and resilience. PLOS ONE, 13(11).

Eriksson, T., Germundsjö, L., Åström, E., & Rönnlund, M. (2018). Mindful self-compassion training reduces stress and burnout symptoms among practicing psychologists: A randomized controlled trial of a brief web-based intervention. Frontiers in Psychology, 9.

Finlay-Jones, A., Kane, R., & Rees, C. (2016). Self-Compassion Online: A Pilot Study of an internet-based self-compassion cultivation program for psychology trainees. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 73(7), 797–816.

Jinpa, T. (2017). A fearless heart: Why compassion is the key to greater wellbeing. Piatkus.

Klimecki, O. M., Leiberg, S., Ricard, M., & Singer, T. (2013). Differential pattern of functional brain plasticity after compassion and empathy training. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(6), 873–879.

Knox, M. C., & Franco, P. L. (2022). Acceptability and feasibility of an online version of the self-compassion for Healthcare Communities Program. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 1–11.

Neff, K. D., Knox, M. C., Long, P., & Gregory, K. (2020). Caring for others without losing yourself: An adaptation of the Mindful Self‐Compassion Program for Healthcare Communities. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 76(9), 1543–1562.

Singer, T., & Klimecki, O. M. (2014). Empathy and compassion. Current Biology, 24(18).

West, M. (2017). Collaborative and Compassionate Leadership. In The Kings Fund. London. Retrieved January 2, 2023, from

Yela, J. R., Crego, A., Buz, J., Sánchez‐Zaballos, E., & Gómez‐Martínez, M. Á. (2021). Reductions in experiential avoidance explain changes in anxiety, depression and well‐being after a mindfulness and self‐compassion (MSC) training. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 95(2), 402–422.



In 2015 the 8 week stress reduction course was delivered to Members of Parliament as part of a year long parliamentary group that explored the role of mindfulness in workplaces, health care, education and criminal justice. Following this a more detailed report specific to the role of Mindfulness in the workplace was published to review the latest research, and to provide case studies and a tool kit for organisations wishing to explore the potential of this.


See links here to both of these reports, and more links for further reading in the research section:


If you are interested in finding out more about how mindfulness may benefit your organisation please get in touch with us.  We are able to offer taster sessions, training days, or full 8 week courses depending on your needs.

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