Welcome to the South Florida Center for Mindfulness (SFCFM) website! I would like to let you know who we are, how the center began, and my own personal journey into mindfulness in order to help you determine whether our center is the best fit for your mindfulness training needs.
To begin with, I have been working as a licensed psychologist and board-certified neuropsychologist since 1995, working with my husband in private practice in Boca Raton. In 2011, on a neuropsychology listserve, I read about a new evidence-based treatment to help depressed people prevent relapse. I was excited to hear this, firstly because I had many clients in my private practice who were depressed and could benefit from such a treatment, and secondly because I loved doing groups. I bought the book, "Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression", by Segal, Williams and Teasdale (2002), and I was hooked. I was excited to start. However, on page 84 of this book, it was recommended that, in addition to training in mental health counselling, instructors of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) have a "first hand, ongoing experience in mindfulness practice." At that point, I was meditating for about 10 minutes a day, listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn's Awareness of Breathing meditations. This book also recommended that the best way to taste directly the practice of mindfulness training was to take a class in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) by an experienced meditation teacher.
So, in May of 2011, I googled "MBSR" and "Boca Raton". Nothing popped up! I googled "MBSR" and "Fort Lauderdale" (where I live), and nothing popped up. I finally googled "MBSR" and "South Florida" and found a woman, Valerie York-Zimmerman, in Coral Gables teaching MBSR on a Saturday. Although I signed up with the intention of helping my patients, I quickly became aware that this was a program about self-awareness, and self-healing. I didn't realize how anxious I was until I started to slow down through the meditation practices. I started to feel so good, I made a commitment to get whatever training I needed to teach MBSR.
From 2011 to 2014, I received MBSR teacher training through the Oasis Institute at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The Center for Mindfulness at UMASS is the birthplace of MBSR and secular mindfulness training, created by its founder, Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. I am happy to report that I am now certified to teach MBSR by this teacher training program.
In July of 2013, I created and incorporated the South Florida Center for Mindfulness, with its mission of enriching the lives of South Florida residents through education, research, and the application of the science of moment to moment awareness. I began teaching members of the community, as well as other health care professionals. I have a strong affinity for health care workers because, being a former critical care nurse for 10 years, I knew too well about the high rate of burnout. It feels good to be able to teach a stress reduction class that was not available when I was a nurse. For two years, I taught MBSR at hospitals within the Memorial Healthcare System (MHS) and found this to be profoundly rewarding. MHS and SFCFM provided scholarships to employees, and we attained Institutional Review Board approval to conduct research with those healthcare professionals, finding significant improvements in their quality of life.
In March of 2014, my husband and I created and incorporated International Seminars Group, with its mission of educating mental health professionals in mindfulness-based interventions. Although mindfulness training is often provided in graduate training programs, I felt there was a tremendous need to educate mental health providers who have been outside of academia for awhile. I truly believe the best way to serve our clients through mindfulness is to "embody" mindfulness ourselves. We received accreditation by the American Psychological Association (APA) to provide continuing education credits to psychologists, and we are also an accredited Continuing Professional Education (CPE) provider for the Commission for Dietetics Registration (CDR) to provide continuing education to dietitians. We also have been accredited by the Florida Board of Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling to provide continuing education to those professions.
Between ISG and the SFCFM, we have now taught hundreds of students throughout South Florida. To date, approximately 5 of our graduates are pursuing certification as MBSR instructors themselves.
Because of my background as a scientist/practitioner, the SFCFM stands out from other mindfulness-based organizations in the following ways:
I can't tell you how rewarding it is for me to be sowing the seeds of mindfulness in my community. I hope that this letter helps you understand more about me and the South Florida Center for Mindfulness, and put you at ease in choosing us for your mindfulness training needs. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
Sharon M. Theroux, PhD
Founder and Director
South Florida Center for Mindfulness