Professional Training Program

Professional Training in Mind-Body Medicine

December 7, 2017 @ 12:00 am

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UPDATE: A reception has been added to DAY 1 of the training. This reception open to CMBM alumni from the Greater Houston area will be held from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

What is Mind-Body Medicine?

Mind-body medicine is based on the scientific understanding of the inextricable connection among our thoughts, sensations and feelings, and our mind, body, and spirit – between ourselves and the social and natural world in which we live. It focuses on the interactions between mind and body; and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social and spiritual factors can directly relieve stress and improve health. It is used with individuals, groups, and entire populations.
Mind-body skills are scientifically validated to reduce stress and restore physical and psychological health. The mind-body approach heals individual trauma and builds community-wide resilience.

The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s (CMBM) approach to wellness is grounded in practical, evidence-based skills for self-care, nutrition, self-awareness, and group support. It emphasizes an approach that respects and enhances each person’s capacity for self-knowledge and self-care.

What’s the Science Behind It?

Mind-body approaches use the conscious mind to directly affect the workings of the brain and the rest of the body. The techniques exert their effect on the hypothalamus, the switching station in the brain, which exercises control over the autonomic nervous system (which controls heart rate, blood pressure etc.), the endocrine (glandular) system and the immune system.

The scientific literature on these approaches is now rich and robust. Studies dating from the late 1960’s have shown the power of mind-body techniques to balance the over-activity of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system (“the fight or flight” and “stress” responses) which is implicated in many physical and emotional diseases and conditions, with parasympathetic nervous system stimulation that promotes relaxation.

More recently, these techniques have been demonstrated to create beneficial changes in many of the body’s physiologic responses (including blood pressure, stress hormone levels, pain response and immune functioning) and to make a significant clinical difference in conditions as diverse as hypertension, HIV, cancer, chronic pain, and insomnia as well as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Who is the Center for Mind-Body Medicine?

The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) was founded in 1991 by James S. Gordon, MD, a former researcher at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, a clinical professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School, and former chair of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. Over the last 25 years, CMBM’s 160 global faculty members and 5,000 trained clinicians, educators, and community leaders have successfully brought programs of self-care and group support to hospitals and clinics, social welfare agencies, schools and universities, and community-based organizations around the world, including areas touched by conflict, terrorism and natural disasters in Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Israel, Gaza, Haiti, in post-Katrina southern Louisiana and with US Military returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The CMBM’s work has easily been integrated into and is compatible with different cultures and their belief systems.

What is this training program in Houston about?

Soon after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area in August 2017, CMBM reached out to our friends and colleagues in the region to see how we might be able to help. Gwen Brehm, the Founder of Houston’s Center for Mind Body Health and a 2009 graduate of the CMBM’s Mind-Body Medicine Training Programs, responded immediately with interest. Gwen brought together the leaders of other Houston-based mental health service providers and soon the Greater Houston Healing Collaborative was formed. Our partners in this Collaborative include the Institute for Spirituality and Health (ISH), the Center for Mind Body Health, the Menninger Clinic, the Houston Galveston Institute, Compassionate Houston and The Jung Center.

The Greater Houston Healing Collaborative will organize and implement a comprehensive program of training, guidance and support for 100 mental health counselors, therapists, emergency first responders, teachers, school counselors, and religious, spiritual and community leaders as they learn and integrate the CMBM model into their existing programs and services. In addition to the Collaborative partners, the program will also include 15-20 other local organizations that provide direct behavioral health and spiritual services to the area’s most impacted individuals and families. By utilizing CMBM’s group model, these organizations will effectively and efficiently reach greater numbers of children and adults throughout the City of Houston and Harris County. Outreach efforts will focus on organizations that serve marginalized and vulnerable populations.

The program will include the creation of a local leadership team which will be equipped to supervise ongoing integration and implementation of the CMBM model in these organizations as well as outreach to other providers. The CMBM leadership team will be a long-term, sustaining presence in the community.

The training program consists of a three-phased curriculum, each setting the foundation for the next. The first training, the Professional Training Program, will be held December 7-10, 2017. More information about this training is described below. The second training, the Advanced Professional Training is scheduled for January 3 – 7, 2018 and teaches participants how to deliver this group model to their clients, parishioners, friends and families. Upon completion of these first two trainings, trainees will participate in a practicum phase in which they will facilitate one 8-week Mind-Body Skills Group (MBSG) with supervision from senior CMBM faculty. From there, a select group will then be prepared to supervise their colleagues in this model through a Leadership Training scheduled for March 7 – 9, 2018.

What happens at the Professional Training Program?

CMBM’s Professional Training Program offers an introduction to mind-body skills within the group context and focuses on teaching participants how to use these skills in their own self-care and how to begin to integrate the approach and techniques into their ongoing work as clinicians, community health workers, social service case workers, clergy, teachers, counselors and other caregiving professions. These simple, transformative skills are the ideal antidote to stress and burnout, and the perfect tools for the caregiver’s tool kit.

The training includes extensive scientific material on the biology and physiology of stress and burnout and on the specific techniques used, as well as experiential work in an intensive, supportive small group.

  • Over the course of the 4-day initial training, trainees will participate in large group plenary sessions in which senior CMBM faculty teach the science of mind-body medicine. Plenary presentations include:Overview of the New Medicine
  • Introduction to Mind-Body Skills Groups
  • Biological Underpinnings of Mind-Body Therapies
  • Imagery
  • Mobilizing, Transforming, and Celebrating the Emotions
  • Genograms
  • Breathing, Physical Exercise and Movement
  • Trauma and Transformation
  • Spirituality and Healing
  • Body Awareness

In the small supportive groups, led by CMBM faculty, trainees will practice mind-body techniques and experience their effects personally. The small groups provide an opportunity for self-expression and mutual support. These experiences of self-care – experiencing one’s ability, for example, to lower blood pressure or decrease anxiety – enhance each person’s sense of self-efficacy and self-responsibility even as they provide direct physiological benefits. The groups also provide an opportunity for ongoing practice of these techniques and offer members support in making the major changes in lifestyle which are required to alter the course of chronic physical and emotional problems.

During the Professional Training Program, trainees will participate in eight Mind-Body Skills Groups. In each group they will learn one or two mind-body techniques (such as meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, working with drawings, breathing and movement). The group combines the didactic learning, experiential learning, practice and group support. This is not a therapy group! However, we find that sharing and connecting with others creates a wonderful learning environment, helping each individual become more self-aware and more engaged in their own self-care.

Participants are never forced to share beyond their comfort level; but in order to share the techniques with patients and clients, it is crucial that they experience them first hand and “walk the talk”. Each group has approximately ten participants and one faculty member, and the group stays together throughout the program, learning together and often becoming friends for years to come. A majority of participants list the small group in post-program evaluations as their favorite part of the program! And understandably– this is the part that supports your own healing and self-care, and eventually that of your family, friends and patients.

These approaches and the “Mind-Body Skills Groups” in which they are taught make use of peoples’ strengths; encourage them to experiment with their own abilities; enhance their sense of control; and are as well, interesting and fun.

We look forward to seeing you at this upcoming training program to be held December 7 – 10, 2017. For questions, please contact us at