What is MBCL?

Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL) is an 8-week course that teaches participants how to cultivate compassion and self-compassion. It was developed by Dr. Erik van den Brink, a psychiatrist, and MBSR teacher Frits Koster, who is also a Vipassana teacher and in his earlier life worked as a psychiatric nurse. In their development of MBCL the Dutch founders drew on the work of such pioneers as Paul Gilbert, Christopher Germer, Kristin Neff and Tara Brach as well as their own many years of experience in working with patients in clinical and other settings.


Compassion is a human quality that enables us to be sensitive towards our own and others‘ pain and suffering. and is accompanied by the wish to relieve them. It also involves cultivating a willingness to understand one’s own potential in working with difficult situations.

Every human being has the ability to be compassionate. However, for many reasons, this quality can often not be fully expressed. Through training and regular practice, compassion can be developed and deepened, which is the aim of the MBCL program.

The founders of MBCL have written a comprehensive book: Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living: A New Training Programme to Deepen Mindfulness with Heartfulness, which includes a detailed section for professionals


How does MBCL work?

Being compassionate – and in particular having compassion for oneself – is a key factor in supporting mental health, a fact that has been underlined in recent scientific studies. Practical exercises like those taught in MBCL help develop and deepen the capacity for compassion.

The 8-week MBCL program involves learning and practicing mindfulness-based exercises to cultivate compassion and self-acceptance. It also teaches participants how to be better able to better handle the tendency to be self-critical and to feel ashamed and guilty. MBCL is also a stress management and burn-out prevention program.


MBCL Course Description

The MBCL course is a mindfulness-based 8-week program that helps participants develop and experience compassion for themselves and others. Recent studies have supported how the development of compassion and self-compassion plays a key role in supporting mental and physical health.

MBCL exercises help participants to experience feelings of warmth, safety, acceptance and a bond with themselves and others. Moreover, the MBCL course introduces participants to some of the theory behind compassion training and shows how being compassionate can be an integral part of everyday life.

The MBCL sessions also include a focus on how to handle difficult emotions and challenging situations in a compassionate way, making MBCL a way of coping with the effects of depression, anxiety, trauma, disease, chronic pain, etc.

The MBCL program is recommended for persons who have already taken an MBSR or MBCT course or have sufficient experience in mindfulness practice. It can be particularly supportive for clients living with depression, anxiety, illness, chronic pain and traumatic experience.

It consists of eight weekly sessions of 2,5 hours each plus one all day session of mindful practice in a retreat format.