Contemplative Psychotherapy Program San Francisco Fall 2021

Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science

Contemplative Psychotherapy Program San Francisco

Contemplative Psychotherapy Program San Francisco:
Compassion Year begins Fall 2021

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

Join contemplative psychotherapy pioneers Dr. Joe Loizzo and Dr. Pilar Jennings with meditation master Robert Thurman for the Nalanda Institute Contemplative Psychotherapy Program: The Compassion Year, a historic program offering an intensive step-by-step learning experience integrating Buddhist social psychology, the ethics of social transformation, compassion meditation and embodied meditation, with the most promising breakthroughs in contemporary neuropsychology, psychotherapy, and the practice of promoting equity.

Our guest faculty for the Compassion Year includes Buddhist scholars, world-class meditation teachers, pioneer researchers, renowned clinicians, and thought leaders Tara Brach, Diana Fosha, Lama Rod Owens, Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Stephen Porges, Jan Willis, Richie Davidson, Emma Seppälä, and others.

Join us starting October 1!

Contemplative Psychotherapy Program San Francisco

View a sample class with Lama Rod Owens

The deadline to apply is September 24th…apply today!

Who is This Training For?

Local and distance learners encouraged to apply include psychotherapists, social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, physicians, creative arts therapists, business coaches, educators, yoga teachers, graduate students, entrepreneurs, artists and others in the helping professions.

The Program

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

The Compassion Year is a comprehensive foundation for integrating the social psychology,  compassion practice, and transformational ethics  of the Nalanda tradition into contemporary relational and systems therapies, intersubjective analysis, transpersonal and self-psychology, narrative, somatic, and transformational therapies.

The Compassion Year trains professionals in 4 core modules:

  • Module 1. Theory — Foundations of Buddhist Social Psychology
  • Module 2. PracticeTransforming the Mind Through Developing Wise Compassion
  • Module 3. Embodying Compassion Through Role-Modeling Imagery and Transformational Flow States
  • Module 4. Embodying Compassion Through Inspiring Breath-Work and Transformational Flow States

Compassion Year Curriculum

Areas of study and practice include:

  • Foundations of Buddhist systems theory, social psychology and embodied psychology.
  • Transforming the mind for compassionate social engagement.
  • Equal empathy, Self-analysis, self-compassion and giving-and-taking practices.
  • The neuropsychology of attachment trauma, implicit bias, and social stress-reactivity.
  • Embodied practice of  role-modeling imagery, breath-body flowand open non-dual awareness.
  • 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.
  • Meditation practicum: video instruction with Robert Thurman and supervision with core faculty.


The year begins with an live online opening retreat October 1–3, with Joe Loizzo. There is also an intersession retreat February 5–6 with Pilar Jennings. We hope to be able to meet in-person at the San Francisco Zen Center for the February retreat. If it is not advisable to meet in-person due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the retreat will take place live via Zoom.

Over the course of the program students watch weekly 3-hour pre-recorded classes, read weekly supplemental literature, and follow daily meditation practices. These activities are enhanced by 8 1.5-hour supervision meetings (via Zoom) with Dr. Loizzo and 8 1.5-hour meetings (via Zoom) with our San Francisco Director, Fiona Brandon. 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.

Students work on a capstone project throughout the year, as well as teach-backs in which participants gain vital experience offering guided meditation for peers. A celebration marks the end of the year when students present their projects via Zoom.


Tuition for San Francisco participation is $4,000 per year. Tuition does not include accommodations for the non-residential retreats. A small amount of financial assistance is available based on financial need, along with a maximum of 3 flexible payments. The program does not offer full scholarships.

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

The deadline for application is September 24th, 2021.


12 CEs are available for Psychologists, MFTs, LCSWs and RNs.


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 retreats, following coursework, participating in a daily meditation practice, completing 2 meditation teach-backs and completing a capstone project.  Participants are asked not to miss more than 2-3 live zoom meetings to be eligible for certification.


Read the Frequently Asked Questions about the Compassion Year, 2021–2022, in San Francisco.

Additional Information

View our website for more information about the San Francisco program. Or contact the Director of the San Francisco program, Fiona Brandon.

Contemplative Psychotherapy Program San Francisco

View a sample class with Lama Rod Owens

The deadline to apply is September 24th…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 enthusiastic path toward the awareness of interdependence.

—Giulia Mellacca, Psychologist

Meet Our Core Faculty

fiona brandon

Fiona Brandon, MA, MFT, is a core faculty member of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. She is the Director of the Nalanda Institute’s CBRT and San Francisco-based Contemplative Psychotherapy programs. As a psychotherapist in private practice, Fiona draws upon Buddhist psychology, depth psychology, expressive arts therapy, dream imagery, and Sensorimotor psychotherapy in her work with adults and couples. Fiona is a graduate of the Masters program in Counseling Psychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute. 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.Contact:

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.

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.

Robert Thurman

Robert Thurman, PhD, is a recognized worldwide authority on religion and spirituality, Asian history, world philosophy, Buddhist science, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., Spiritual Director of Menla, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies. Dr. Thurman received his PhD from Harvard and has studied extensively with many top Tibetan Lamas including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Dr. Thurman is the author of many books, including The Central Philosophy of Tibet, The Jewel Tree of Tibet, and, most recently, with William Meyers and Michael Burbank, Man of Peace: The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

Contemplative Psychotherapy Program San Francisco

View a sample class with Lama Rod Owens

The deadline to apply is September 24th…apply today!