Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care

Applications for the 2015/16 Training are open. Students are accepted on a rolling basis. 

Click here to download the 2015-16 Foundations Application OR to upload your completed application. 

Continuing Education Credits are available for Social Workers for this program.  See below for details.

A nine-month program from September to May

Are you ready to train in contemplative care skills with other like-minded people? Would you like to study with leaders in the field of Buddhist caregiving? Our Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care Training Program is designed to meet the needs of people in a variety of ways by:

  • building a community of caregivers interested in integrating caregiving with contemplative practices
  • beginning training for those interested in becoming volunteers or professional caregivers in their local communities, hospitals, hospices, and other places where spiritual care is needed
  • offering basic training in spiritual care including attending the sick and dying, performing ritual, and offering spiritual direction

Program Components

  • Eight monthly trainings including one four-day residential Contemplative Care Retreat, October 22-25, 2015, at the Garrison Institute
  • 100 hours of volunteer contemplative caregiving at a clinical site (hospital or hospice). Students local to New York City complete these hours at VNSNY or Lennox Hill. Non-local students can do their clinical hours near to where they live
  • Eight one-on-one mentoring sessions
  • Monthly assigned reading and written assignments
  • Monthly meetings with peers


  • History of Contemplative Care: applications and settings for spiritual care and engaged Buddhism
  • Contemplative Care Skills I: purpose and functioning of a caregiver, establishing spiritual care relationships, active listening, spiritual counseling, verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Contemplative Care Skills II: spiritual assessment, ritual, collaboration with other professionals and disciplines
  • Buddhist practices related to contemplative care
  • Cultural competency in a multicultural world
  • Verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Use of Self; when to disclose and when not to, boundaries and ethics of conduct; personal safety; sexual feelings in spiritual care relationships
  • Interfaith and multi-faith ministry, religious directives
  • Creating and Leading Rituals: memorials, rites of passage, practice rituals
  • Ministry to death and dying, grief and loss
  • Critical Incidents: trauma, addiction, suicide, homicide, domestic violence
  • Elective Study

To complement the training program, the New York Zen Center offers public talks, retreats, workshops, and other training programs. To view upcoming events, click here.


Classes will be held at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care in New York City:  119 W. 23rd Street, #401 (between 6th and 7th Avenues).

2015/16 Training Dates:

Classes meet from 10am-4:30pm.

Friday, Sept. 11
Saturday, Sept. 12

Friday, Oct. 2
Saturday, Oct. 3

Thursday, Oct. 22 thru Sunday, Oct. 25

Friday, Dec. 4
Saturday, Dec. 5

Friday, Jan. 8
Saturday, Jan. 9

SESSHIN/SILENT RETREAT (optional) (Dates in January TBD)

Friday, Feb. 5
Saturday, Feb. 6

Friday, March 4
Saturday, March 5

Friday, April 1
Saturday, April 2

Friday, May 6
Saturday, May 7

2014/15 Scheduled Training Dates:

Friday, Sept. 12                                                                                                                              Saturday, Sept. 13                                                                                                                           Friday, Oct. 10                                                                                                                               Saturday, Oct. 11

CONTEMPLATIVE CARE RETREAT                                                                                
Thursday, Oct. 30 thru Sunday, Nov. 2

Friday, Dec. 5                                                                                                                               Saturday, Dec. 6                                                                                                                             Friday, Jan. 2                                                                                                                               Saturday, Jan. 3

SESSHIN/SILENT RETREAT (optional)                                                                          
Thursday, Jan. 15 thru Sunday, Jan. 18

Friday, Feb. 6                                                                                                                               Saturday, Feb. 7                                                                                                                             Friday, March 6                                                                                                                               Saturday, March 7                                                                                                                             Friday, April 10                                                                                                                             Saturday, April 11                                                                                                                           Friday, May 8                                                                                                                               Saturday, May 9

Guidelines for Enrollment

The training program is designed for people who have a Buddhist or contemplative practice, or are interested in beginning one.  With this in mind, the guidelines for entering the program are the following:

  • Letter of recommendation from a Buddhist teacher or someone who knows your spiritual practice
  • Regular and committed Buddhist or contemplative practice and study for at least six months (or previous chaplaincy training)
  • Two Buddhist or contemplative retreats of one week or longer or the equivalent.
  • An in-person interview (Non-local applicants are required to come in for interview.)

Graduate Credits

This is a graduate-level training that includes several self‐directed learning components. It does not certify you to become a chaplain. However, successful completion of the Foundations Program does make you eligible to apply for our Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training program. Also, once you are accepted to the Foundations Program, you have the option to register through our partner institution, New York Theological Seminary, to receive eight graduate credits for this program. There is an additional charge, paid to NYTS for these credits. To learn more about NYTS and our relationship with them, please go here.

Continuing Education Credits

Social Workers

For professional social workers, National Association of Social Workers credit will be offered for 40 Continuing Education contact hours for completion of this course.  A $50 Continuing Education certificate fee will be added to the tuition cost. Confirmed approval number is 886535357-6710.


This continuing nursing education activity was approved by New Jersey State Nurses Association, an accredited approver of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. 58.25 hours have been approved, approval number 7411-9/13-15.  A $50 Continuing Education certificate fee will be added to the tuition cost.

Learning Objectives:

Using the Buddhist precepts as a springboard for discussion and activity, students of The Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care Program will learn 1) to perceive the suffering around them, 2) bring interpretative rigor to what they perceive, 3) see events from multiple points of view and be moved to compassionate action through the principles of bearing witness and not knowing. These skills will be acquired within the restrictions (time, costs, etc.) of the current environment for health care workers.

Speaker Disclosure Statement:

New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care’s staff and teaching faculty have no conflict of interest relative to the Foundations Program.

For more information regarding contact hours, please call Francesca Morfesis at 212.677.1087

Tuition and Admissions

  • The cost for the ninth-month program is $3,750 (payable by check or credit card)
  • A limited number of partial work-exchange scholarships are available
  • Space is limited. Applications will be reviewed as they are received.  They are accepted year-round.

Application deadline for the 2015-16 class is June 1st, 2015.  Applications are received and accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, so sending in your application early is advised. To download the application, click here.

The first non-refundable payment of $2,000 is due 2-3 weeks after students are accepted to the program.

The balance of payment of $1,750 is due on Friday, August 28, 2015 (two weeks before class begins).

If a student withdraws before Sept. 11, 2015 (the day Foundations begins), student receives a 25% refund of the second payment.

If a student voluntarily leaves or is asked to leave the Foundations program after it begins (Sept. 11, 2015), tuition will not be refunded.


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