Contemplative Psychotherapy Fall 2020 San Francisco

Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science

Contemplative Psychotherapy Program:
The Mindfulness Year in the San Francisco

Nalanda Institute’s two-year Contemplative Psychotherapy Program integrates mindfulness and compassion-based meditation practices and Buddhist psychology with contemporary psychotherapy and neuropsychology. The program spans 2 years — one devoted to Compassion and the other to Mindfulness. Students may start in either year. This fall marks the beginning of the Mindfulness Year in San Francisco.

Our faculty is comprised of leading Buddhist scholars, practitioners, world-class meditation teachers, pioneering mindfulness and compassion researchers, and renowned clinicians. The program is led by Drs. Joe Loizzo and Pilar Jennings. Our esteemed meditation experts are Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman. Guest faculty include Lama Rod Owens, Rick Hanson, Jasmine Syedullah, Christopher Germer, Paul Fulton, Ethan Nichtern and others.

Join us starting October 16th!

Apply CPP San Francisco

The deadline to apply has been extended to September 30th…apply today!

Who is This Training For?

Social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, physicians, creative arts therapists, educators, graduate students, and other professionals in the helping professions are encouraged to apply.

The Program

The curriculum is taught over two years. One year is dedicated to Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy and the other in Compassion-based Psychotherapy. Participants may enter the program in either year. This fall marks the start of the Mindfulness Year in San Francisco.


This year provides a comprehensive foundation for integrating contemplative psychology and meditation practice into contemporary psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, object relational, interpersonal, family-systems therapies and related caregiving fields. Areas of study include:

  • history of Buddhism and Buddhist psychology
  • fourfold mindfulness, loving kindness, and self-compassion practices
  • traditional and contemporary models of stress and trauma
  • the neuroscience of meditation, plasticity and memory reconsolidation
  • clinical applications of mindfulness, loving kindness, and self-compassion
  • unlearning implicit bias, developing radical acceptance and prosocial engagement
  • contemplative psychotherapy: mindfulness-based methods and integrative nuances
  • meditation practicum: video instruction with Sharon Salzberg and supervision from Joe Loizzo, Fiona Brandon and Lama Rod Owens


Due to COVID-19, the year will begin with an online retreat with Joe Loizzo and Fiona Brandon.

The San Francisco program is a hybrid learning experience. For each of the 30 weeks throughout the year, students independently watch video lectures online by our core faculty and guest speakers (including Lama Rod Owens, Rick Hanson, Jasmine Syedullah, Christopher Germer, Paul Fulton, and Ethan Nichtern), maintain a daily meditation practice, and read required texts.

Every two weeks (on Wednesdays from 9:00–10:30 am PT), students gather for a video conference that includes discussion, meditation, and case consultation. These conferences are facilitated by Fiona Brandon and Joe Loizzo.

There is also an intersession retreat led by Lama Rod Owens, February 6–7, 2021 held at the San Francisco Zen Center. The Spring retreat will be held online if the cohort is not able to meet in person due to restrictions in place because of COVID-19.

Students work on a capstone project throughout the year.


Read the Frequently Asked Questions about our Fall 2020 offering in San Francisco.


Tuition is $4,000 per year and includes retreats and materials. Tuition does not include accommodations for the retreats. CE credits are available for this program. The deadline for application is September 15, 2020.

Additional Information

View our website for general information about the program. Read the FAQ. Or contact San Francisco CPP Director, Fiona Brandon.

Apply CPP San Francisco

The deadline to apply has been extended to September 30th…apply today!

What People are Saying

Attending the Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program has been a rich and rewarding experience. Not only did I deepen and concretize my understanding of Buddhist thought as it applies to clinical work, but I also made lasting friendships with other like-minded clinicians. The sense of community they provide feels like a warm embrace.

—Debra Rosenzweig, PhD, Clinical Psychologist

And from one of our distance learning students:

I can’t find words to explain how important this journey has been for me. My spiritual and professional growth has been like a flower growing slowly and steadfastly toward the sun. My experience with the people I work with has completely changed. Now I’m able to receive their struggles like a gift and together we can embark on our specific and enthusiatic path toward the awareness of interdependence.

—Giulia Mellacca, Psychologist

Meet Our Core Faculty

Joe Loizzo

Joe Loizzo, MD, PhD is a Harvard-trained contemplative psychotherapist, Buddhist scholar, and author with over four decades experience integrating Indo-Tibetan mind science and healing arts into modern neuropsychology, psychotherapy, and clinical research. He is founder and director of the Nalanda Institute, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and a clinician in private practice in Manhattan. Joe is the author of numerous scholarly review articles on contemplative neuropsychiatry and psychotherapy. He is the author of the comprehensive textbook, Sustainable Happiness: The Mind Science Of Well-Being, Altruism, and Inspiration. He is executive editor of Advances in Contemplative Psychotherapy: Accelerating Healing and Transformation, a groundbreaking collection of essays by pioneers of the fast-emerging and highly promising new field of contemplative psychotherapy.

sharon salzberg

Sharon Salzberg is a meditation teacher, author, and a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. She is one of the most prominent Buddhist meditation teachers in the West and has been teaching and leading meditation retreats around the world for over three decades. Her writings have appeared in numerous publications, including Time, Yoga Journal, Tricycle, Buddhadharma, Loin’s Roar, and numerous anthologies. She is the author of ten books, including Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier (co-authored with Robert Thurman), and Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection.

Lama Rod Owens

Lama Rod Owens is considered one of the emerging leaders of his generation of Buddhist teachers. An author, activist, and teacher, he is the co-founder of Bhumisparsha, a Buddhist tantric practice community as well as a visiting teacher with several Buddhist centers including the Natural Dharma Fellowship and the Brooklyn Zen Center. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Lama Rod has also been a guest faculty member at the Harvard School of Education’s program Mindfulness for Educators. He has been a regular guest on SiriusXM’s Urban View hosted by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Karen Hunter. He is also a co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation and his next book project exploring transformative anger and rage is due out Fall 2019. Lama Rod can be reached at

fiona brandon

Fiona Brandon, MA, MFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice who draws upon Buddhist psychology, depth psychology, expressive arts therapy, dream imagery, and sensorimotor psychotherapy in her work with adults and couples. Brandon is a graduate of the Masters program in Counseling Psychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her research focused on the meditative practice of authentic movement, the use of symbols, and dream imagery in psychotherapy. She has taught mindfulness practices at the UCSF Chronic Pelvic Pain Center and has been a teaching assistant at both the California Institute of Integral Studies and the Pacifica Graduate Institute.

pilar jennings

Pilar Jennings, PhD, is a psychoanalyst focused on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation who has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004. She was awarded her PhD in Psychiatry and Religion from Union Theological Seminary, a Masters in medical anthropology from Columbia University, and a Bachelors in interdisciplinary writing from Barnard College of Columbia University. Dr. Jennings is the author of Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism and To Heal a Wounded Heart: The Transformative Power of Buddhism and Psychotherapy in Action. Currently, she is a researcher at the Columbia University Center for Study of Science and Religion and Co-chair of the Columbia Faculty Seminar on the Memory and Savery, where she explores the intergenerational transmission of trauma.

Apply CPP San Francisco

The deadline to apply has been extended to September 30th…apply today!