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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mondays, April 5 to May 24, 2021

Internet Live Course

This training will be offered as a live online course, with details provided to registered participants in advance of the event.

Registration and payment deadline: April 1, 2021

Important dates:

  • Orientation session: 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 22, 2021
  • Eight-week session: 6 to 8:30 p.m. April 5 to May 24, 2021 (first and last class will be 6 to 9 p.m.)
  • Saturday silent retreat: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 15, 2021

Instructors: Tim Riley, MD, and Shelly Ungemach, MSW, LSW

Registration is closed.

Wednesdays, June 2 to July 21, 2021

Internet Live Course

This training will be offered as a live online course, with details provided to registered participants in advance of the event.

Registration information will be available soon.

Mondays, Sept. 27 to Nov. 15, 2021

Internet Live Course

This training will be offered as a live online course, with details provided to registered participants in advance of the event.

Registration information will be available soon.

Wednesdays, Sept. 29 to Nov. 17, 2021

Internet Live Course

This training will be offered as a live online course, with details provided to registered participants in advance of the event.

Registration information will be available soon.

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Being mindful begins right where you are. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, is an eight-week guided course for bringing healthy choices to life, being offered to the community through Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine.

Participants are saying
“MBSR is a community of acceptance and belonging… the “me” becomes “we”… “we” happily celebrate our life successes; “we” humbly share our life burdens. It is loving others beyond one’s self while loving one’s self to allow extension of this love to others. Even if you are in practice by yourself at any given time, you are never alone.”

Everyone experiences the effects of stress. In some situations, like during a formal exam or interview, stress can help people to focus and perform better. In others, particularly over extended periods of time, stress can compromise health and threaten someone’s sense of wellbeing.

The body is designed to respond to stress by solving the challenges that come its way. Stress mobilizes the body’s natural fight, flight or freeze response, which may include physical changes such as an increased heart rate or more rapid breathing. Over time, especially when someone finds themselves being constantly stressed, the body’s natural defense and coping mechanisms may weaken and lead someone to not feel well or to become sick.

Mindfulness is the capacity to pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment and without judgement. Mindfulness, as taught through the MBSR course, offers a potential solution to reduce stress and its potential harmful effects.

What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction?

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction or MBSR is an eight-week course that teaches participants the principles of mindfulness and how to apply these principles to deal more effectively with stress and the demands of daily life.

The MBSR program was originally developed in the late 1970s at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. The program consists of body awareness exercises, meditation, gentle yoga and inquiry (guided discussion), along with daily formal and informal home practices. MBSR is taught in a secular manner.

Participants are required to attend the following:

  • An orientation session
  • Eight weekly classes, each two and a half to three hours long
  • An all-day (seven-hour) Saturday silent retreat between class six and seven

During the orientation session, participants will meet with the course instructors. The instructors will provide a detailed course overview, outlining course expectations as well as benefits and potential risks of participation. There will also be time for participants to ask questions and to complete a brief one-on-one interview with one of the instructors.

Participants are saying
“While I thought I was handling my stress well, the truth was it was cumulative and wearing me down. Unexpected early retirement, stress enough, was followed immediately by a diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer, surgery and then radiation. My care was great, but the bottom line was, and still is, that the cancer is still there. My medical oncologist, sensing my anxiety, suggested I talk with someone and that led to my participation in the MBSR program early on… When I started MBSR I was looking for a reason to keep fighting — a purpose that would make my ‘new’ life worth living. The stressors are all still there and most likely always will be. But my sense of stress has become much more manageable. I now know what to do when it seems it isn’t. While I don’t often lie down for a ‘body scan’ any more, I use what I learned about that practice, and others, most every day on long walks that have as much to do with my mind as with my physical well-being. I find myself more aware, ‘mindful,’ of little things that matter when I ‘mindfully’ pay attention. My every morning stretching routine before I start my day is a direct result of my MBSR experience. It makes me feel good and it’s good for me.”

What does a typical MBSR class look like?

The first half of each MBSR class provides an extended period of practice, incorporating different forms of guided meditation as well as gentle standing and lying-down yoga. The second half of each class is dedicated to group discussion (inquiry) – exploring participants’ direct experiences with the formal and informal practices being taught during each class as well as their experiences from daily home practice (45 to 60 minutes). Each week’s practices build upon each of the previous weeks’ lessons.

MBSR courses are generally offered in the fall, winter and spring each year.


Please refer all questions to

Participation Requirements

Participants will need a laptop, smartphone or tablet with reliable internet connection. A quiet, protected space within the home is recommended.


Participants are saying
“MBSR was, and is, a godsend. The leadership, group interaction and training in how to be ‘mindful’ as a way of becoming more aware of my stressors and my ability to deal with them have made a tremendous difference.”

Timothy D. Riley, MD, has been a practicing family physician for more than 10 years, and has been in Penn State’s Department of Family and Community Medicine since 2012. After learning how mindfulness can impact provider well-being and quality of care at the University of Rochester, he became a qualified MBSR teacher through the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. He currently serves as the Department of Family and Community Medicine’s associate vice chair for wellness and as the Office of Faculty and Professional Development’s co-director for well-being and burnout mitigation.

Holly Socolow, MHS, has been offering mindfulness programs in the Lancaster/Hershey/Harrisburg area for 12 years in health care, community and business settings. She was the MBSR facilitator for the Women’s Health Research study for overweight women completed at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and published in August 2017. Socolow participated in professional training under the direction of Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. She is a qualified MBSR teacher through the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts.

Participants are saying
“By practicing mindfulness… I developed a picture in my imagination of a bubble surrounding me, separating me from those difficult situations and the accompanying emotions… I have been able to use that distance between myself and my emotions to think creatively about new responses to difficult situations.”

Michael Hayes, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychiatry and member of Penn State College of Medicine’s faculty and of Penn State Cancer Institute. Dr. Hayes is a licensed psychologist with 28 years of professional experience. His clinical practice is dedicated to caring for patients diagnosed with cancer as well as patients undergoing bone marrow or solid organ transplantation. He also serves as the psychosocial services coordinator for the Penn State Cancer Institute’s cancer committee. Dr. Hayes is a University of Massachusetts School of Medicine Center for Mindfulness-qualified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher and on the pathway to become a CFM-certified MBSR teacher.

Michelle “Shelly” Ungemach, MSW, LSW, is a licensed social worker and the psychosocial program development coordinator at Penn State Children’s Hospital. Ungemach has provided opportunities to learn and practice mindfulness meditation in the area for the past nine years. She completed the University of California at San Diego’s MBSR teacher training intensive and is an MBSR teacher-in-training at the UCSD Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute.

Tuition and Fees

  • $250 – full tuition
  • $150 – Penn State students, Penn State Health residents and MBSR alumni
  • $450 – benefactors



Penn State College of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 2.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits per individual class. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Social work

Penn State is an approved provider as defined by Pa. Code Sections 47.36(a)(3), 48.36(a)(3), and 49.36(a)(3). Social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors licensed by the state of Pennsylvania can earn 2.5 clock hours of continuing education for completing each class session.

Psychology (APA)

Continuing Education credits have been approved for licensed psychologists. Penn State College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Penn State College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Full attendance at the sessions and evaluation of each individual session attended is required to receive CE credit for psychologists. Partial credit will not be awarded. Late arrivals or early departures will preclude awarding of CE credits.

Registered Nurses

Registered Nurses: 2.5 CE. This continuing nursing education activity was approved by the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, an approved provider of continuing nursing education by the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.


A completed evaluation is required in order to receive a certificate for attending this activity. Please complete and submit the evaluation within the specified time frame.


The University reserves the right to cancel or postpone any course or activity because of insufficient enrollment or other unforeseen circumstances. If a program is canceled or postponed, the University will refund any program registration fees paid but cannot be held responsible for any related costs, charges or expenses, including cancellation/change charges assessed by airlines or travel agencies.

Program registrants who are experiencing illness or have been exposed to anyone who is ill should contact the Continuing Education office before attending any in-person activities.


Content and speakers for all programs are subject to change. Registrants will be notified of any significant updates.

Access (ADA)

Penn State encourages people with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. Participants who anticipate needing any type of special accommodation or who have questions about the physical access provided should contact the Continuing Education office at least one week in advance of participation or visit.

Disclosure and Conflict of Interest (COI and Educational Balance)

It is Penn State policy to ensure balance, independence, objectivity and scientific rigor in all educational programs. Faculty and course directors have disclosed relevant financial relationships with commercial companies, and Penn State has a process in place to mitigate any conflict of interest. Complete faculty disclosure will be provided to program participants at the beginning of the activity.

University Nondiscrimination Policy

This publication is available in alternative media on request. The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. It is the policy of the University to maintain an academic and work environment free of discrimination, including harassment. The Pennsylvania State University prohibits discrimination and harassment against any person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, genetic information, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status and retaliation due to the reporting of discrimination or harassment. Discrimination, harassment or retaliation against faculty, staff or students will not be tolerated at The Pennsylvania State University. Direct all inquiries regarding the Nondiscrimination Policy to the Affirmative Action Director, The Pennsylvania State University, 328 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802-5901; 814-863-0471 (TTY).

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