International Panel for the Acknowledgement of Mindfulness-Based Programs (IPA)

The International Panel for Acknowledgement of MBPs takes up responsibility to evaluate mindfulness-based programs: newly developed ones and adapted programs, be they moderated or follow-up programs. IPA promotes safe, ethical and inclusive practices in the field of evidence-based secular mindfulness teaching.

MBP – Mindfulness Based Program

MBP means mindfulness-based program. IPA adopts the definition of  R S CraneJ BrewerC Feldman, J Kabat-ZinnS SantorelliJ M G Williams, W Kuyken source:
“MBPs are informed by theories and practices that draw from a confluence of contemplative traditions, science, and the major disciplines of medicine, psychology and education; underpinned by a model of human experience which addresses the causes of human distress and the pathways to relieving it; develop a new relationship with experience characterized by present moment focus, decentering and an approach orientation; catalyze the development of qualities such as joy, compassion, wisdom, equanimity and greater attentional, emotional and behavioral self-regulation, and engage participants in a sustained intensive training in mindfulness meditation practice, in an experiential inquiry-based learning process and in exercises to develop.”

The following topics are addressed in the text below:

  • IPA – what & why?
  • Procedures for screening
  • Pre-Screening
  • Full Screening
  • Encouraging Researchers
  • IPA History

IPA – what & why?

The IPA consists of a pool of international professionals – teachers and researchers – and operates independently under the umbrella of eamba.

The reason for creating IPA was a logical consequence of an increase in mindfulness-based training – both in scope and in diversity – and a need to evaluate the relevance and evidence base of these MBPs.

The intention of the IPA is to enable developers with different backgrounds and resources to propose new programs.

Recognition is meant to support endeavours to best serve a greater diversity of populations and contexts.

Currently acknowledged MBPs are listed on this page…

IPA is grateful to the researchers and developers who have been offering their experience and insights on defining what makes a mindfulness-based program, as well as on precautions to be observed when adapting MBPs to current needs (see sources).

Crane, R. S., Brewer, J., Feldman, C., Kabat-Zinn, J., Santorelli, S., Williams, J. M. G., & Kuyken, W. (2016). What Defines Mindfulness-Based Programs? The Warp and the Weft. Psychological Medicine, 47(6), 990–999. Read Article…

Loucks, E. B., Crane, R. S., Sanghvi, M. A., Montero-Marin, J., Proulx, J., Brewer, J. A., & Kuyken, W. (2022). Mindfulness-Based Programs: Why, When, and How to Adapt? Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 11, 21649561211068804. Read Article…

Martin P. J. van Boxtel, Sophie A. Sansom and Wendy Kersemaekers  (2022). Intervention Fidelity in Mindfulness-Based Research and Practice: Developing Criteria to Acknowledge New Training Programs. Read Article…

Procedures

In evaluating a program, IPA is very attentive to the current state of evidence in support of a program’s efficacy and safety.
Expectations around evidence-based process development of new programs apply.
Feasibility, acceptability, potency, safety and potential contra-indications should have been scientifically examined.

The process of evaluation and acknowledgement consists of two phases:

  1. Pre-screening
    This will establish
    (a) whether the program meets the needs of a population or context that is not currently provided for by an already existing MBP, and
    (b) whether appropriate premises were chosen during development.
  2. Full screening
    If a program passes pre-screening, developers will be invited to submit an application for full screening.
    The program will then be reviewed by a panel that examines,
    (a) whether the program meets the criteria for definition as a mindfulness-based program, and if so,
    (b) whether the evidence base shows that the program is safe and effective.
    Programs are being classified as having either an ‘established’ or an ‘emergent’ evidence base.

Pre-screening

If you have developed a mindfulness program that you seek acknowledgement for, please be informed as follows:

  1. To reduce costs, IPA offers a pre-screening process at €150.
    The investment for the full screening is to be estimated before starting a full screening.
  2. You can read, fill in and sign the evaluation agreement attached.
  3. Download and answer the pre-screening questionnaire.
  4. Send your pre-screening questionnaire and your evaluation agreement to ipa@eamba.net
  5. Send a payment of €150 to the IPA bank account (IBAN NL28 TRIO 0379 3688 62 BIC TRIONL2U)  in the name of eamba / IPA, Doorn (NL), mentioning ‘IPA + name applicant’.
  6. As soon as these documents and your payment have been received, the IPA assessment committee (two IPA members) will perform the pre-screening.

Within two weeks following the receipt of your payment, you will be informed in writing about whether your application is eligible.
If an application for a full screening procedure can be submitted, you will also receive an estimate of the additional investment required.

Full Screening

Upon positive evaluation of an MBP you can apply for full screening. Your investment will be between €750-1500, based on the scope and expected workload required for assessing the program and based on the information from the pre-screening.
Costs will be communicated before starting the full screening.
The overall procedure may take up to four months.

Practical steps for full screening are as follows:

  1. When payment for the full screening process has been received, a personalised and protected application file in Google docs will be set up for you.
  2. You will receive a link to this file in order to complete a questionnaire and upload the documents needed to complete your request. We invite you to respond as much substantiation as possible and to upload your file within four weeks.
  3. This file is monitored by the administrator and will only be shared with the IPA members who evaluate your request. All documentation transferred to the assessment committee during the review process will be kept completely confidential.
  4. If needed, the assessment committee will contact you.
  5. You will be invited for an online dialogue with the assessment committee about the program and the information you provided.
  6. On completing the assessment, the assessment committee will create a recommendation and discuss this within the IPA.
  7. Possible outcomes of the discussion within the IPA are that recognition is:
    (a) unconditionally granted
    (b) conditionally granted, pending requested adjustments
    (c) not granted.If a), the MBP will be directly announced on the eamba website.If the conditions under b) are accepted and adjustments are made by the applicant, the MBP will then be announced on the eamba website.If c), there will be no announcement on the eamba website.

Acknowledgement is valid for a period of three years.
Interim adjustments to the training curriculum by the developer of the MBP must be explained in writing to IPA by submitting an amendment. 

Three years after the application, all related files will be deleted from the server, unless you apply for a renewal of the review of the MBP.
Criteria and procedures for renewal – are yet to be published.

For your information, you can already have a look at the screening_questionnaire attached. IPA will send you the full format after you’ve positively passed the pre-screening process, see above.

Encouraging Researchers

Mindfulness-based programs are listed as ‘Emergent’ or ‘Established’.
This conveys the current state of evidence in support of a program’s efficacy and safety. Both experiential and scientific knowledge may complement each other in defining the value of a new program.

Researchers are encouraged to consider programs listed as ‘Emergent’ as potentially valuable routes for future scientific inquiry.

History of IPA

In recent years the availability of mindfulness-based training has increased significantly in both scope and diversity.
More and more moderated mindfulness-based – or mindfulness-informed or mindfulness-inspired – training programs are being developed for specific target groups, while being derived from the original MBCT and / or MBSR.

In 2019, the MPB-Taskforce for the evaluation of mindfulness-based programs was founded by VMBN, the Dutch Association of Mindfulness-Based Trainers. The British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches (BAMBA) joined this initiative in 2020. Together, they developed and tested a set of criteria and procedures for acknowledgement of mindfulness-based programs, based on internationally recognised standards. IPA is now leading. See ‘sources’ at the top of this page for resources consulted by the MPB-Taskforce and IPA.

Upon invitation colleagues from eamba Associations are participating in an evaluation processes, especially when native speakers are needed, given the language in which the MBP is presented.