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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Course

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was originally developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the late 1970s by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. It is an eight-week, evidence-based, highly experiential course that is currently offered at more than 250 hospitals, universities, and clinical settings in the United States and around the world.

MBSR's primary aim is to develop skills that can be flexibly applied in everyday life to stress, pain, and illness. Through experiential learning and discussion during class, as well as through daily mindfulness practice at home, participants learn and refine a range of self-regulatory skills that involve finely tuned attention to thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.

The MBSR Program Involves:

  • A group Orientation session. Orientations are offered free of charge. The Orientation is required so that you can determine if the MBSR program is a good fit for you. At this time, orientations are all virtual (on Zoom).
  • An eight-week program that meets once per week (on Zoom) for 2.5-3 hours, consisting of:
    • Instruction and group practice of several formal mindfulness meditation practices: sitting meditation, body scanning, and mindful movement
    • Instruction and group practice of mindful hatha yoga, a series of gentle stretches and postures. Modifications and chair yoga are offered.
    • Discussion of the roles of stress, thoughts, and emotions as they may contribute to anxiety and distress, and chronic pain and illness.
    • Daily Home Practice: meditation practice at home with the guidance of audio recordings (mp3)
    • A Retreat Day in the second half of the course.

Who Can Benefit From MBSR?

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, up to two-thirds of all office visits to family doctors are for stress-related symptoms. Depression and anxiety symptoms are often associated with chronic illness and chronic pain and should be addressed as part of the overall management of health problems. MBSR may help reduce medical symptoms and psychological distress as well as the need for clinical services.

Health Benefits of MBSR

  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced medical symptoms
  • Improved immune system function
  • Improved mental health
  • Decreased stress hormones
  • Improved sleep

MBSR Research

Mindfulness meditation has been researched in conjunction with:

  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cancer quality of life
  • Heart disease and risks
  • Stress

MBSR Course Schedule

MBSR courses are typically offered in the winter/early spring, summer, and fall.

Upcoming 8-week MBSR Courses

Spring 2021 

This 8-week MBSR course will be held online (via Zoom) on Wednesday evenings.

Wednesday, March 17th through Wednesday, May 5th, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Retreat day (all day session) is Sunday, April 18th, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

It will be taught by Barbara Ivanko, LCSW.

MBSR Registration

You may register at an orientation session. Payment is collected at orientation or prior to the first MBSR class.
Cost of MBSR course: $325 

Orientation Schedule

Attendance at an orientation session is required for MBSR course registration.
Orientations are free of charge and held from 6:30 pm to 8 p.m. ET via Zoom.
Orientation attendance can be applied to registration in any future MBSR course at the Center for Integrative Medicine.

Orientation dates

We will be holding the following MBSR Orientation online:

  • Wednesday, February 10, 2021 (Barbara Ivanko)
  • Wednesday, March 3, 2021 (Barbara Ivanko)
  • Wednesday, March 10, 2021 (Barbara Ivanko)

To sign up for an orientation session, please email mindfulness@upmc.edu. Provide your full name, phone number, and indicate which orientation date you plan to attend. You will receive the Zoom link by email.

Continuing Education

Continuing education (CEU) credits (up to 20 Credits or 2.0 General CEUs) will be offered for nurses, psychologists, social workers, and licensed counselors through UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. There is a small fee for CEU credits.

MBSR Teachers

Orientation Sessions and MBSR Courses are led by Barbara Ivanko, LCSW, Carol M. Greco, PhD. and/or Kelly Beck, PhD.

Barbara Ivanko has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) for more than 20 years, and has been teaching MBSR since 2012. She received her Master’s degree in Social Work from Stony Brook University in 1994 and has a post-graduate certificate in East/West Psychology.

Carol Greco, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Greco has practiced meditation for 46 years and is certified as an MBSR teacher by the UMass Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. She has taught MBSR courses at the Center for Integrative Medicine at UPMC Shadyside since 2005.

Kelly Beck, PhD, has practiced meditation for 10 years and is a qualified MBSR teacher who has completed all teacher-trainings at the UMass Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. She has taught MBSR courses at the Center for Integrative Medicine since 2017.

Contact Us

UPMC Center for Integrative Medicine
Shadyside Place
Suite 310
580 S. Aiken Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

For general information or to schedule an appointment, call 412-623-3023.