Contemplative Psychotherapy Program

Contemplative Psychotherapy Program /
San Francisco

Two-year training integrating time-tested mindfulness and compassion practices in Buddhist psychology with evidence-based western psychotherapy and neuropsychology.


The Contemplative Psychotherapy Program is the leading certification program in the West for integrating mindfulness and compassion-based meditation practices and Buddhist psychology with contemporary psychotherapy, and current neuropsychology. The San Francisco online learning program is designed for local and distance learners and is a combination of 2 live non-residential retreats, online lectures, and video conferences.


The faculty is comprised of leading Buddhist scholars, practitioners, world-class meditation teachers, pioneering mindfulness and compassion researchers, and renowned clinicians. The San Francisco program is led by Dr. Joe Loizzo, Dr. Pilar Jennings, SF Program Director Fiona Brandon, MFT, and Facilitator Geri Loizzo. Past and present guest faculty include Robert Thurman, Sharon Salzberg, Mark Epstein, Tara Brach, Dan Siegel, Chris Germer, Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Richard Davidson, Sebene Selassie, Paul Fulton, Ethan Nichtern, Rick Hanson, and others.


The curriculum is taught over two years. One year is dedicated to Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy and the other in Compassion-based Psychotherapy. Participants may start the two-year program in either year.

Continue reading Curriculum

Mindfulness Year

The Mindfulness 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: instruction with Sharon Salzberg

The Mindfulness Year will be taught in San Francisco from October 2020 – June 2021. There will be two in-person retreats. The opening retreat will be led by Dr. Joe Loizzo in October 2020 and the intersession retreat will be led by Lama Rod Owens in February 2021.

Compassion Year

The Compassion Year provides a comprehensive foundation for integrating the social psychology and meditation practices of the Nalanda tradition into contemporary transpersonal and self-psychology, narrative, somatic, and gestalt therapies. Areas of study include:

  • foundations of Buddhist systems theory and social psychology
  • transforming the mind for compassionate social engagement
  • the neuropsychology of attachment trauma, implicit bias, and social stress-reactivity
  • fourfold compassion practice, role-modeling imagery, and breath-body flow practice
  • transforming the unconscious mind and nervous system for embodied social engagement
  • the neuropsychology of transformational affects, polyvagal theory, and flow states
  • compassion-based therapies, embodied therapies, and integrative nuances

The Compassion Year will be taught in San Francisco from October 2021 – June 2022. There will be two in-person retreats. The opening retreat will be led by Dr. Joe Loizzo on October 1 – 3, 2021 and the intersession retreat will be led by Dr. Pilar Jennings, Core faculty member. 


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The San Francisco program begins each Fall with a weekend retreat at the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC), where Nalanda Institute Director Joe Loizzo provides intensive instruction. There is also a winter retreat at SFZC lead by Sharon Salzberg, Pilar Jennings, or another of our core faculty.

Continue reading schedule

Semesters are comprised of watching weekly 3-hour videotaped classes from New York, weekly readings, and daily meditation practices, enhanced by 8 1.5-hour supervision meetings (via Zoom) with Dr. Loizzo and 8 1.5-hour meetings (via Zoom) with our local program supervisor and San Francisco Director, Fiona Brandon over the course of the year. These live, interactive video conferences take place on Wednesdays from 9:00am–10:30am PT and include group discussion, guided meditations, review of course material, and case consultation. Dates for these meetings are given out at the beginning of the program.

Please note: Due to the uncertainty of social distancing requirements brought on by the pandemic, some changes may be made to our schedule and procedures.


Psychotherapists, social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, physicians, creative arts therapists, educators, entrepreneurs, artists, and others in helping professions are encouraged to apply.

Continue reading eligibility

Preference may be given to those who are established in their clinical practice, who have had at least some exposure to meditative practices, and who wish to deepen their awareness of contemplative-based practices and their clinical applications.

According to the Nalanda teaching tradition, this training can be entered in either year. For those wishing to enter the program in the Compassion Year, acceptance is contingent on applicants’ professional experience and on familiarity with Buddhist thought and mindfulness/yoga practice. Accepted applicants will watch an online bridge lecture to prepare for the Compassion Year training. New participants who graduate from the Compassion Year are invited to continue in the next cycle of the Mindfulness Year.


The Nalanda Institute’s Certificate in Mindfulness-Based and Compassion-Based Psychotherapy is awarded to those who complete all of the requirements of that year’s curriculum, including participating in one of the in-person retreats, coursework, meditation teach-backs, daily meditation practice, and a capstone project.


Tuition for San Francisco participation is $4,000 per year. Tuition includes San Francisco retreats but does not include accommodations for the non-residential retreats. A small amount of financial assistance is available along with flexible payment options based on financial need. The program does not offer full scholarships.

Please note that no refunds or credits will be issued once classes begin in October 2021.

Continuing education credits

24 Continuing Education Credits (CEs) are available for The Compassion Year 2021–2022.

Information on Continuing Education Credit for Health Professionals:

  • CE credits for psychologists are provided by the Spiritual Competency Academy (SCA) which is co-sponsoring this program. The Spiritual Competency Academy is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. SCA maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
Continue reading continuing education credits
  • The California Board of Behavioral Sciences accepts CE credits for LCSW, LPCC, LEP, and LMFT license renewal for programs offered by approved sponsors of CE by the American Psychological Association.
  • LCSW, LPCC, LEP, and LMFTs, and other mental health professionals from states other than California need to check with their state licensing board as to whether or not they accept programs offered by approved sponsors of CE by the American Psychological Association.
  • SCA is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN Provider CEP16887) for licensed nurses in California. RNs must retain this document for 4 years after the course concludes.
  • SCA is an approved CE provider for National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coaches (CEP Number 100196).
  • For questions about enrolling in CE or receiving your Certificate of Attendance, contact Fiona Brandon at
  • For other questions about CE contact David Lukoff, PhD at

Application information

Applications are now open for the Compassion Year starting Fall 2022. Choose either Live Online or Hybrid Online. Contact Rahshaana Green for additional information.

Apply here


For more information, please contact San Francisco Director, Fiona Brandon at

Students gather in San Francisco with SF Director Fiona Brandon.