Our Trainers

Betsy Atwell, MA, LPC, CSAC, ICS

Betsy AtwellBetsy Atwell, MA, LPC, CSAC, ICS is a practicing therapist in Madison, Wisconsin, specializing in populations that struggle with addiction and trauma. She completed the Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) training in 2016 and has run the group at a community mental health agency since then. In 2019, she participated in a research study on MBRP with the University of Wisconsin, Madison which allowed her the opportunity to work with Sarah Bowen to ensure fidelity to the model. Betsy actively practices meditation in her personal life and finds that it enhances her skills with other treatment modalities including EMDR and IFS, as well as clinical supervision.

Michelle Becker, MA, LMFT

Michelle Becker, M.A.,LMFTMichelle Becker, M.A., LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in San Diego, CA utilizing mindfulness and compassion based psychotherapy with individuals, couples, families and groups. She is Director of Compassion Programs at the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness where she also teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindful Self-Compassion. She is a teacher trainer for Mindful Self-Compassion and co-founder, along with Dr.’s Germer, Neff and Hickman, of the Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher Training. She is also co-founder of the San Diego Center For Well Being and co-developer of the Mindful Living for Couples program. Michelle enjoys helping individuals, couples, families and groups to find a meaningful and satisfying way of life. For more information on Michelle’s work and schedule please visit her website: www.wisecompassion.com.

Sarah Bowen, PhD

Sarah BowenSarah Bowen, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, is Associate Professor at Pacific University in Portland, Oregon, where she specializes in mindfulness-based approaches for treatment of addictive and impulsive behaviors. Her research and more than 50 publications have focused on mechanisms of change and on treatment adaptations to best serve diverse populations and settings, with particular interests in dual diagnosis and underserved communities. Dr. Bowen facilitates and supervises mindfulness-based relapse prevention groups in numerous settings, including private and county treatment agencies, medical centers, and prisons. She presents, consults, and provides instruction internationally.

Ian Challis

Ian ChallisIan Challis is a qualified teacher of MBSR in Palm Springs, California where he teaches MBSR and other mindfulness meditation classes in the community. Inspired by Beth Mulligan’s teaching, it is always a special joy for him to teach alongside her. Ian has maintained a dedicated practice for fifteen years, and studied with many leading teachers including Larry Yang, Sylvia Boorstein, Rodney Smith and Tara Brach. In addition, he completed a multi-year training and was certified in 2017 to teach Insight Meditation by Spirit Rock Meditation Center. After a career in art and product design, he became a founding board member of Insight Community of the Desert, which has grown into a thriving meditation center. He currently serves as the center’s Guiding Teacher offering weekly teachings, workshops, and retreats. Supporting the creation of inclusive and aware communities is a core practice for Ian, along with his own personal development of cultural humility and sensitivity. Identifying as queer, Ian has a passion for supporting those who feel marginalized in dharma and practice communities. He promotes anti-racist work, and teaches residential retreats for queer and gender-fluid folk.

Neha Chawla, PhD

Neha Chawla, Ph.D. is one of the co-creators of MBRP and co-author of the Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Addictive Behaviors: A Clinician’s Guide. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her research interests include the development and evaluation of mindfulness-based treatments for substance use disorders, understanding mechanisms of change, issues related to therapist training and dissemination, and the assessment of therapist competence. Neha has facilitated several MBRP groups in private and community treatment settings in Seattle and on the East-coast.

Christopher K. Germer, PhD

Christopher K. GermerChristopher K. Germer, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in the Boston area. He is a Lecturer on Psychiatry, Part-Time, at Harvard Medical School and a founding faculty member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. With Kristin Neff, PhD, Dr. Germer developed the Mindful Self-Compassion program. He conducts workshops and lectures internationally on mindfulness and self-compassion, is co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy, and author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion.

Email: ckgermer@gmail.com

Website: www.chrisgermer.com

Richard Goerling

Richard GoerlingRichard Goerling has served in civilian law enforcement for over twenty years. He also served as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, both active and reserve for 27 years, retiring at the rank of Commander in 2015. He’s had a front row seat to operational stress in both arenas and has spent the last decade as a student, and now trainer, of resiliency. Over the last decade, he has spearheaded the introduction of mindfulness training into policing in the United States and internationally as part of a larger cultural transformation toward a compassionate, skillful and resilient warrior ethos. He serves as an affiliate faculty at Pacific University’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology and participates in mindfulness research at this institution. Richard regularly trains and presents on resiliency for first responders, bringing practical mindfulness skill building to enhance personal, organizational and community.

Allan Goldstein

Allan GoldsteinAllan Goldstein, Certified MBSR Teacher, providing MBSR Teacher Training, and MBSR Mentorship is a Senior Advisor on the Leadership Team of the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness. Allan’s passion for supporting Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Teachers through MBSR Training and MBSR Mentorship began in 1993 when he first participated in an MBSR program. Continuing to explore the foundations of MBSR and mindfulness led Allan to training programs offered by the UMass Center for Mindfulness. He established MBSR Programs of Hawaii where he joyfully lived and taught for 14 years. He Joined Dr. Steven Hickman, UC San Diego CFM Founding Director, in 2011 and was a leader in the development of the UCSD CFM Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute and MBSR Certification programs. Allan has taught MBSR extensively to groups and individuals in health care, university, Veterans Health Administration, and community settings. Allan’s strong passion, for the valuable teachings found within MBSR, continues through his teaching, professional MBSR Teacher Training programs and practicum intensives which along with mentoring current and future MBSR teachers is now Allan’s dedicated focus of work in the health-care field of mindfulness programs.

Andrea Grabovac, MD, FRCPC

Andrea Grabovac, MD, FRCPCAndrea Grabovac, MD, FRCPC is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. Her psychiatric practice focuses on inpatient psychiatry at Vancouver Hospital and outpatient psycho-oncology at the BC Cancer Agency. Beginning in 2006, she has been facilitating both group and individual mindfulness-based interventions for various clinical populations, including mood disorders, sexual medicine and oncology. In collaboration with Dr. Mark Lau, she developed and continues to facilitate a monthly Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy consultation course for MBCT clinicians since 2009. In addition, she supervises psychiatry residents and other mental health clinicians in the provision of MBCT and is an Associate Teacher at 5-day MBCT teacher trainings. Her academic publications explore the clinical relevance of re-contextualizing mindfulness based interventions within Buddhist psychological frameworks. She has a particular interest in the clinical relevance of the progressive development of meditative skills as described in the Theravadan stages of insight. Andrea is a co-investigator on two funded trials investigating MBCT adapted for women, and has co-authored MBCT treatment manuals for treatment of provoked vestibulodynia and low sexual desire in women. She is also an Associate Editor for the journal Mindfulness. She has practiced and studied in the Burmese Theravada Vipassana tradition since 2002. Andrea lives in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and their three children.

Joel Grow, PhD 

Joel Grow, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist at the Seattle Mindfulness Center and lead trainer of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP).  His research interests include clinical applications of mindfulness meditation, primarily in the areas of anxiety, trauma, and addictive behaviors.  He has extensive experience teaching in the university setting, and was awarded the University of Washington “Award for Teaching Excellence.”  He co-facilitates MBRP groups in both private and community treatment settings.

Steven Hickman, PsyD

Steven HickmanSteven Hickman, PsyD is a clinical psychologist and retired Associate Clinical Professor in the UC San Diego Departments of Family Medicine & Public Health and Psychiatry. He is the Founding Director of the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness and the Executive Director of the non-profit Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. Dr. Hickman teaches Mindful Self-Compassion around the world and trains teachers of that program and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, in addition to speaking and teaching on the topic of teaching mindfulness-based programs. Steve is particularly interested in supporting men in developing greater self-compassion and mindfulness and is involved in projects to develop these capacities in Olympic-class athletes, first-responders and active duty military.

Lorraine M. Hobbs, MA, Chom

Lorraine M. Hobbs, M.A., ChomLorraine M. Hobbs, M.A. is a Founding Director of the Youth, Family & Education Programs at the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness. She is a family therapist and former clinical director of adolescent treatment programs. Lorraine is certified to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), and Compassion Cultivation, Altruism, Research & Education (CCT), a Stanford University accredited program created by contemplative scholars and endorsed by H.H. The Dalai Lama. During her tenure at the Center for Mindfulness, she designed and implemented curricula in mindfulness-based interventions for multiple age groups, including a program in Mindful Compassionate Parenting. She is a pioneer in self-compassion training for parents, teens and kids and is co-author of Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Teens & Young Adults (MFY), adapted from the adult program created by Kristin Neff, Ph.D. & Chris Germer, Ph.D. Lorraine is co-founder of the MFY teacher training program and provides teacher training in the MFY curriculum throughout the U.S. and internationally. Her new curriculum for kids, A Friend in Me: Growing Kindness, Empathy and Resilience – An emotional strength training program for kids and the Mindful Compassionate Parenting curriculum will be available for teacher training in 2021. Lorraine offers mindfulness-based interventions in a community-based hospital in Indiana and Bryan, Ohio. She is a mentor for the MBSR certification pathway at the UCSD Mindfulness Based Professional Training Institute. Lorraine offers 2-day retreats, public talks and 1-2 day core skills training/intensives in mindfulness and self-compassion to medical personnel, educators and clinicians. She is currently offering self-compassion based workshops for educators and frontline workers during COVID as well as courses for parents and kids on coping with the stress of change and uncertainty.

Pete Kirchmer

Pete KirchmerPete Kirchmer is a Life Coach, Mindful Movement Instructor and Meditation Teacher in Encinitas, CA. Pete is the mPEAK Program Director and a lead teacher in the mPEAK program. As the founder of Mindfulness Based Health, he specializes in helping his clients apply the practice of mindfulness to making healthy lifestyle changes as well as improving performance in both work and life. Pete has completed the foundational training as a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher through the University of Massachusetts Oasis Institute, holds a BS in Exercise Physiology, and is a Certified Professional Life Coach through the Coaches Training institute, Center for Applied Positive Psychology and Wellcoaches. Pete is also a Master Trainer for efi Sports Medicine and certified STOTT Pilates Instructor. He is a lifetime learner and an active member of the International Coach Federation and the Harvard Institute of Coaching. Currently Pete has a private coaching practice in Encinitas, is a regular presenter at Rancho La Puerta, a world-class wellness resort in Tecate, Mexico and is on the board of directors for the Encinitas Mindfulness Community.

Mark A. Lau PhD, R Psych

Mark A. Lau PhD, R Psych is a registered psychologist in private practice at the Vancouver CBT Centre, a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, a Founding Fellow of both the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behaviour Therapies and a Certified Trainer/Consultant of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Mark has over 20 years experience offering MBCT (and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)) in both group and individual formats. He has also trained mental health professionals in MBCT & CBT including single and multi-day professional MBCT trainings offered across North America, and abroad including Europe and Australia including. In addition, he has provided MBCT workshops to research administrators, researchers, lawyers and their support staff, academic staff and to the general public. He currently offers (along with Dr. Andrea Grabovac) a longitudinal consultation course for graduates of the 5-day MBCT Hollyhock professional training in Vancouver. He and Andrea have offered similar versions of this course for the past 6 years to mental health professionals looking for additional support in teaching MBCT. Mark was first introduced to MBCT in 1995 when he began working with Dr. Zindel Segal in Toronto to help conduct the first MBCT outcome study. He spent the next 11 years working with Dr. Segal before moving out to Vancouver in 2006. Mark has conducted research into the mechanisms underlying MBCT’s effectiveness, the development and validation of the Toronto Mindfulness Scale, and evaluating effective methods of disseminating MBCT, which has been published in scientific journals. Mark is an Associate Editor of the journal Mindfulness. Finally, he is registered to practice psychology in both British Columbia and Ontario.

Beth Mulligan, PA-C

Beth Mulligan, PA-CBeth Mulligan, PA-C is the Advisor for the MBSR Teacher Certification Program and a lead teacher trainer for the MBSR Teacher Training Intensive at UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness (UCSD CFM). Beth was an adjunct faculty for the UMASS Center for Mindfulness. She has been teaching MBSR for fifteen years at medical centers, universities and to diverse populations; from the critically ill, to non-profit organizations, the underserved, educators, and corporate leaders. She is also a certified MSC Teacher and teacher trainer. Beth has a background in primary care medicine as a Board Certified Physician Assistant and has practiced medicine for over 25 years. She is a senior Zen student of Roshi Charles Tenshin Fletcher at Yokoji Zen Mountain Center where she has lived in residence, and is the Guiding Dharma teacher at Insight Community of the Desert. 

Hugh O’Neill

Hugh O’Neill is co-owner of Mindful-Way.com, and has studied and practiced meditation and yoga for more than 20 years. His many years of creative and management experience in the media industry, including significant time working in international news and documentary production, combined with his intensive training in Mindfulness Meditation programs enable him to skillfully relate the concepts and practices of mindfulness to a wide range of populations. Hugh has taught more than 80 MBSR courses and dozens of other mindfulness programs at universities, medical centers, corporations and government agencies including the US Navy. Hugh has also been a presenter at the International Scientific Conference on Mindfulness, is a regular event speaker, and is the lead mindfulness teacher in a number of clinical research projects. Hugh has trained in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction with the originator of the MBSR program, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. He has studied and lived in residence at Yokoji Zen Mountain Center under the guidance of Zen Master Charles Tenshin Fletcher, Roshi, and is Certified as an MBSR teacher through the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness.

Megan Prager, MA

Megan PragerMegan Prager, MA is the Compassion Programs Director at UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness and Co-Founder of Mindful Labs. Megan is a Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Instructor (MBSR), a Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Instructor (MSC), a Certified Compassion Cultivation Instructor (CCT), an Adjunct Faculty member at San Diego State University, and a Lecturer at UC San Diego Rady Business School. She is also a Teacher Trainer and Mentor for the UC San Diego Mindfulness Based Professional Training Institute and for the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. In addition to teaching Mindfulness-based programs, Megan specializes in developing and delivering mindfulness and compassion trainings for Fortune 500 companies as well as for educational, healthcare, and academic settings. She is currently collaborating with Universities to establish and instruct Mindfulness and Compassion courses at the collegiate level. In all her ventures, Megan’s passion and mission are the same: to empower individuals with an understanding of the important role they play in shaping their lives and well being. Megan believes through compassionate awareness individuals are able to utilize one of the best resources they have: themselves.

Website: www.mindfullabs.com 

David Spound, MEd

David Spound, M.Ed.David Spound, M.Ed., is the Director of Valley Mindfulness in Northampton, Massachusetts, a company he founded in 2006. He teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), and other in-person and online programs based on these two groundbreaking courses. He also creates specialized programs for individuals and organizations, and he leads silent meditation retreats. David trained, and was certified, as a teacher of MBSR by the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School, the organization founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn. David worked at the UMass Center for Mindfulness from 2006–2013 where he served as a member of the MBSR teaching staff and coordinated the MBSR teacher training and certification program.
David trained, and was certified, as a teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion by the UCSD Center for Mindfulness. Besides teaching MSC, he works on new projects and courses on behalf of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, the organization founded by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer.
For David, his work as a teacher and mentor is a true labor of love. He looks forward to each unique and special opportunity to serve as a mentor for others who feel called to this work. Please feel free to be in touch with David if you have any questions about working with him.

Website: www.valleymindfulness.com

Anne Twohig

Anne TwohigAnne Twohig lives in Ireland in the beautiful seaside town of Greystones, where she enjoys long walks by the sea and hiking in the hills of County Wicklow. She is a certified MBSR teacher and teacher trainer. She is the founder of the Centre for Mindfulness Ireland, which she established in 2007. Anne trained with the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness (UMass CFM), and has been a member of their professional teaching faculty since 2014. During her years as a teacher trainer with UMass CFM, Anne has been the host for professional teacher trainings in Ireland as well as teaching with CFM in Ireland, Europe and in the US. Anne has extensive experience teaching mindfulness across a range of areas, including healthcare, education, non-profit organisations, prison services, and the corporate and banking sectors. She was the recipient of a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland award for her work in Mindfulness in Education.
Anne is passionate about offering support and guidance to the community of qualified MBSR teachers in Ireland and around the world. She is committed to encouraging ongoing teacher development in the form of mentoring, supervision and continued education. She is excited to be on the teaching faculty at the UCSD Center for Mindfulness and looks forward to being part of their professional teacher trainings in Europe.

Website: https://www.cfmi.ie/

Zayda Vallejo, Mlitt

Zayda Vallejo, MlittZayda Vallejo, Mlitt, was born in Colombia, South America. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and a Master’s degree in Political Economy at Oxford University. She has been practicing meditation and yoga since 1978. Her keen interest in meditation took her to Japan, India, Burma, and Nepal, where she lived for three years.

Zayda is an adjunct faculty member at Cambridge Health Alliance Center for Mindfulness and Compassion (CMC). She is a mindfulness instruct or, trainer , and part of the team that developed the Mindfulness Training for Primary Care Group Leadership Manual. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University School of Public Health. For the past 18 years Zayda has served as a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) instructor, teacher, and supervisor of professionals who aspire to teach MBSR at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society (CFM). From 2007-2015 she taught MBSR for The Lazar Lab at the Massachusetts General Hospital for research purposes.

Zayda has taught mindfulness programs and developed curricula at The Garrison Institute, Mindful Kids Miami, University of Southern California, and other organizations. In 2014 she co-founded The Heartwell Institute, a non-profit community organization in Worcester, MA dedicated to foster contemplative practices and wellness education. Zayda leads 5-day and 7-day silent retreats.

Carolyn West, PhD

Carolyn West, Ph.D.Carolyn West, Ph.D. is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and has held faculty positions at American International College and Western New England University, both in Springfield, Massachusetts. A unifying thread of her rich and lengthy people-centered career has been the integration of her work in the areas of psychology and clinical practice, particularly with children and women, with her decades long mindfulness study and practice. Mindfulness has been central to her work across populations – with children and their families, as well as teachers, college students, and patients participating in cardiac rehabilitation. From 2005 through 2018, she was part of the teaching faculty at the Center for Mindfulness in Worcester, Massachusetts where she offered courses in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and, as a senior instructor, provided encouragement, mentoring and training to teachers across the world.

Grateful for her own teachers and experience, Carolyn views the mentoring relationship as one of remarkable intimacy, with encouragement and support provided in the context of a shared exploration of the landscape of teaching mindfulness. Her most influential mindfulness teachers continue to be her children and grandchildren.

Katie Witkiewitz,​ PhD

Katie Witkiewitz, Ph.D. is a Regents’ Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and has worked extensively on the development of a theoretical model of biopsychosocial influences on substance use disorder and recovery. She has conducted numerous grant funded studies on the efficacy and effectiveness of mindfulness-based relapse prevention, prediction of relapse following treatment for alcohol and drug use disorders, and mechanisms of change following mindfulness-based interventions. She currently trains and supervises providers who deliver mindfulness-based relapse prevention groups in community-based treatment programs for substance use disorders.

Fadel Zeidan, PhD

Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D.Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness and Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology at UCSD. He and his laboratory have discovered the neural processes supporting mindfulness meditation and mindfulness-based pain relief. Recently, he and his team have demonstrated that mindfulness meditation is mechanistically distinct from and more effective than placebo, distraction, and relaxation. His research is currently funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and has disseminated his findings through traditional media outreach (CNN ; NPR ; Time Magazine , CBS and others), Tedx and recently personally presented his work to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in Mongolia. In his new role at the UCSD Center for Mindfulness, Fadel will focus on expanding his research to focus on working with different patient populations and user-friendly approaches to promote the self regulation of pain. Fadel is especially excited at examining ways to integrate mindfulness from the lab to the clinic and community.

Website: https://www.zeidanlab.com/

Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH

Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPHDouglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH served as an Executive Director for the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness and as associate vice chancellor (AVC) for health sciences at UC San Diego and was a tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry until the Fall of 2020. He is the Executive Vice President for University of New Mexico (UNM) Health Sciences and Chief Executive Officer of the UNM Health System.

A distinguished physician-scientist and leader in the field of addictive disorders research, he was recruited to UC San Diego in 2017. For 10 years prior he was chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and president of UMass Memorial Behavioral Health Services. Under his leadership, his department became one of the largest in the country, with over 375 faculty supported by 2,000 staff, and substantial growth in research, clinical services, and education.

Dr. Ziedonis is internationally recognized for his research in co-occurring mental illness and addiction, especially tobacco addiction and recovery-oriented interventions. His research has been continuously funded for more than 25 years and received over 110 grants (28 as principal investigator), resulting in over 300 publications and scholarly works. He serves on multiple editorial boards, including The Scientific World Journal and the Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry. He is active in global initiatives, including current research in the UK, China, Latvia, Italy and Denmark.