MBRP: Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) is a training course integrating empirically supported interventions from Dr. Alan Marlatt’s Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT), Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and Zindel Segal and colleagues’ Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). This program was specifically created for clients in recovery from substance use disorders, and is designed to prevent relapse for those who have undergone inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment.

The MBRP curriculum integrates mindfulness meditation practices with cognitive-behavioral strategies to support clients’ recovery. The MBRP skills help participants learn to recognize and stay with discomfort (physical, cognitive and emotional) as opposed to reactively reaching for a “fix.” Combining mindfulness and relapse prevention cultivates heightened awareness of both internal and external triggers, while promoting vital lifestyle modifications for a healthy life of recovery. The MBRP program and its principles of treatment require an experiential understanding of mindfulness meditation practices. Therefore, it is essential for clinicians who facilitate MBRP groups to have their own daily mindfulness meditation practice, and endeavor to embody the principles they teach.


Leading the training will be MBRP developers and clinicians Sarah Bowen, Ph.D., Neha Chawla, Ph.D., and Joel Grow, Ph.D. The goal of the training is to provide a dynamic, experiential and didactic learning environment to equip participants with the necessary skills for successful delivery of the MBRP program. Using demonstration, role-play, simulated exercises, inquiry and discussion, we will cover the themes, material, and exercises included in each of the eight MBRP sessions. Throughout the training, attention will be brought to deepening the clinician’s own mindfulness practice through daily sitting and walking meditations, yoga/mindful movement and a day of silent retreat.
Registration will be limited to ensure time for personalized training in teaching MBRP practices.

It is widely acknowledged within the field that the teaching of mindfulness and compassion arises out of the personal practice of them. Thus, training courses include substantial periods of personal practice of mindfulness meditation and compassion to help develop the personal and professional resource of these human qualities. An analogy might be that the swimming coach would have to be an excellent swimmer, or a violin teacher would actually be a skilled violinist. Therefore in the field of mindfulness and compassion, the teacher must have a well-developed and substantial experiential grounding in these practices, which is partially supported through meditative practice and exercises during the training.


At the completion of this activity, the participants should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an intellectual and experiential understanding of the MBRP principles and the role of mindfulness in relapse prevention
  • Define and describe the integration of RPT and mindfulness techniques
  • Demonstrate, lead and inquire the core MBRP exercises
  • Effectively lead the MBRP mindfulness meditation and mindful movement practices
  • Identify and describe clinical and logistical issues that arise in leading MBRP courses
  • Utilize their own mindfulness meditation practice through formal periods of practice and mindfulness as a mode of being in daily life and appreciate the necessity of personal practice for successful delivery of this treatment modality

Target Audience

The training is intended for mental health professionals wishing to expand their practice to include MBRP and mindfulness-related practices. Those in attendance should be either licensed clinicians in a mental health field, clinicians-in-training, or interested professionals who do not intend to deliver the intervention directly but have other professional interests in the topic (i.e. researchers, administrators, etc.). All participants should have at least a modest regular meditation practice and an established practice is preferred.

Participant Guidelines

It is our experience that successful delivery of MBRP requires facilitators to have a commitment to an ongoing, daily mindfulness meditation practice. To this end we have created recommendations for acceptance to this MBRP training.

  • Advanced degree in mental health-related field (e.g., psychology, social work or counseling)
  • Prior training in Vipassana or Insight Meditation and a personal commitment to and well-established daily meditation practice
  • Familiarity with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques
  • Experience with and an understanding of models of addictive behavior
  • Experience facilitating group process
  • Prior or future attendance at a minimum of one silent, teacher-led 5-10 day residential mindfulness meditation retreat

Needs Assessment

The utilization of mindfulness in a clinical context is a burgeoning area of study and practice in the mental health field in the past few years. The number of research articles, books and popular press articles on the topic is growing exponentially each year and the demand for quality professional training in these practices and techniques is growing each year. This training has been offered in the past three years through the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness, with increasing enrollments each year, as well as at other sites across the country and around the world.

Continuing Education Credit

Psychologists: This program is sponsored by UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course offers 26.0 CE credit.

Nurses: UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP16351, for 31.0 contact hours.

NAADAC: The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors to sponsor continuing education for addiction professionals. This course offers 26.0 CE credit. (UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness Provider Number 218243)

Cultural and Linguistic Competency Statement

This activity is in compliance with California Assembly Bill 1195 which requires continuing medical education activities with patient care components to include curriculum in the subjects of cultural and linguistic competency. Cultural competency is defined as a set of integrated attitudes, knowledge, and skills that enables health care professionals or organizations to care effectively for patients from diverse cultures, groups, and communities. Linguistic competency is defined as the ability of a physician or surgeon to provide patients who do not speak English or who have limited ability to speak English, direct communication in the patient’s primary language. Cultural and linguistic competency was incorporated into the planning of this activity. Additional resources can be found on the UC San Diego CME website.

Faculty Disclosure

It is the policy of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine to ensure balance, independence, objectivity and scientific rigor. All persons involved in the selection, development and presentation of content are required to disclose any real or apparent conflicts of interest. All conflicts of interest will be resolved prior to an educational activity being delivered to learners through one of the following mechanisms: 1) altering the financial relationship with the commercial interest, 2) altering the individual’s control over CME content about the products or services of the commercial interest, and/or 3) validating the activity content through independent peer review. All persons are also required to disclose any discussions of off label/unapproved uses of drugs or devices. Persons who refuse or fail to disclose will be disqualified from participating in the CME activity.

Tentative Online Training Schedule

Phase 1: Eight 1.5-hour sessions
Phase 2: All Day on 2 weekends
Phase 3:  Two 1.5-hour sessions

Tentative In-Person Schedule

Registration: 1:00–5:00 pm
Dinner: 5:30–6:30 pm
First Session: 6:45–8:45 pm

Morning session: 7:00 am-12:00 pm
Lunch: 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Afternoon session: 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Dinner: 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Evening session: 6:45 pm – 8:30 pm

Session Ends: 1:00 pm

Required Reading

  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Addictive Behaviors: A Clinician’s Guide Bowen, Chawla, Grow & Marlatt
  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders by Katie Witkiewitz, PhD, G. Alan Marlatt, PhD, Denise Walker, PhD
  • Suggested Reading
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression, Second Edition by Zindel V. Segal, J. Mark G. Williams, John D. Teasdale
  • Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Germer C, Siegel RD, Fulton P (eds.)
  • Mindful Recovery. Bein & Bein
  • One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps. Kevin Griffin
  • The Mindful Brain. Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness. Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • The Wise Heart. Jack Kornfield, Ph.D.
  • Radical Acceptance. Tara Brach

Frequently Asked Questions

I am flying in for the training. What are my options and what do you recommend?

See our LOCATIONS page for details about travel to the retreat centers and preferred airports. The UCSD Center for Mindfulness will set up a Ride Share Bulletin Board in coordinating shuttle rides for those arriving by air at local airports.

What time should I plan to arrive? When do we finish?

We will begin checking people into the retreat at 1 pm on the first day of the training. However, it may be possible for you to arrive before 1pm and have access to your room. We ask that you plan on arriving no later than 5pm so that we can begin with the full group in attendance at dinnertime. We plan to end the retreat by 1:00 pm on the last day so please plan your travel accordingly, using the time guidelines above. Sometimes situations arise in which people have to leave the retreat earlier than noon on the last day but we strongly urge you to avoid this if at all possible.

Is there wireless service/cellular phone use?

Please do not expect to get consistent, reliable wireless internet service while at the retreat center. It is most advisable to leave your computer at home because of the retreat nature of the training, however we recognize that sometimes computer use is a necessity. Most cellular phones will work in this location. Again, however given the nature of the training there will be limited opportunities to use them, so informing those who may need to contact you of these limitations ahead of time will be helpful.

Is it possible to stay extra nights at the facility or arrive a day or two early?

The retreat center is often booked both right before and right after our training, so arriving early or staying an extra night or two after the retreat is over is not likely to be a possibility. You can of course arrange to stay at lodging near the retreat center if you would like to extend your stay. Contact us directly at mindfulness@ucsd.edu to make such arrangements.

What do I need to bring?

If it is at all possible, please bring a meditation cushion (zafu) and a yoga mat. We will have a few cushions but not enough to go around, so if you have one and can squeeze it into your luggage or bring it as a carry-on please consider doing so. It is always advisable to check the weather forecast prior to traveling, to help guide you in proper clothing choices.

The relatively remote location makes security a minor concern, but we do want people to know that with shared sleeping quarters and very limited availability of keys to lock rooms, we highly recommend leaving valuable items at home to reduce the possibility of anything being lost or stolen. Certainly some of us will have vehicles where such items can be secured if this is necessary.

What should I expect regarding the format of the training?

This training is taught in a retreat format, which means there is a great deal of mindfulness practice embedded in the training, and we want to reiterate that now so you are not surprised when you get here. The venue very much facilitates this format; we will will meet, eat and be housed in a relatively secluded area. There are no other large groups planned in the center that week so it should be relatively quiet and secluded. The rooms are clean and comfortable, but not by any means luxurious. and as you probably noted on the website, you will have a roommate. In most cases several of you will share a dorm-style bathroom nearby.

What should I read prior to arriving?

Check the “Schedule and Required Reading” page of the specific training you are registered to attend.

What if I require some special accommodations or have dietary restrictions?

While you are asked to note specific food restrictions on your registration application, if there are any additional food or medical concerns we should be aware of please let us know of these in advance so we may assist you.

Continuing Education Credit Fees

Continuing education credits for participation in this program are available for an additional fee

Psychologists, Psychotherapists (LCSW, MFT, LPC), Substance Abuse Counselors$75

Partial Payments

Partial payments are acceptable; however a non-refundable minimum deposit of $300 USD is due upon registration.

Please be aware that the early-bird rate is available for all participants who register and pay their balance in full by the early-bird deadline (see registration information above). All early-bird rate participants who have a remaining balance on or after the early-bird deadline will have their fees automatically adjusted to the General Session Rate.

All remaining balances must be paid in full 30 days prior to the start of the training or your registration will be cancelled for non-payment and you will not be permitted to attend.

Cancellation Policy

A refund (minus your $300 non-refundable deposit) will be made for cancellations submitted in writing 30 days prior to the training. No refunds will be allowed after that date.

In the unlikely event that the course is cancelled, UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is responsible only for a full refund of the registration fee and not for transportation, hotel accommodations or any miscellaneous expenses.

Application Essay

During the registration process, you will be required to fill out an online application form. Should your qualifications not be accepted for admittance, a full refund will be granted.