Healthy Boundaries

What Is the Buddhist Healthy Boundaries Course?

This online course is taught by Buddhist instructors for Buddhist teachers and leaders to help them create and maintain safe and healthy spiritual communities.

Over the five weeks of the course, through forum discussions, weekly assignments, video curriculum and lectures, participants will gain and share knowledge and resources needed to understand the fundamentals and best practices around healthy and appropriate boundaries in spiritual teacher/student relationships. These include the impact of appropriate vs. inappropriate boundaries in promoting effective teaching; the impact of misconduct on spiritual communities; and guidelines for developing appropriate boundaries and necessary self-care strategies.

Weekly feedback between the instructors and students, along with online discussions with fellow classmates, provides each student with an interactive and enriching learning environment.

The course includes three live online group discussions with the instructors via Zoom. 

Who Should Take This Course?

  • You have received formal authorization or transmission in your Buddhist lineage to teach the Dharma; OR
  • You have students of your own and you teach independently; OR
  • You teach under the auspices of a senior/authorized teacher, (i.e. people look to you for spiritual guidance and education); OR
  • You hold a position of spiritual authority or leadership within your sangha/ community (i.e. you teach meditation, give practice advice, and Dharma talks)

What Are the Learning Objectives?
Participants in the Buddhist Healthy Boundaries Course will:

  • Establish an informed and ethical foundation for an understanding of healthy boundaries
  • Understand the importance of an awareness of power and vulnerability within teaching relationships
  • Examine dating, friendships and dual relationships and the challenges therein
  • Examine transference and touch boundaries in teaching relationships
  • Consider best practices of responding to misconduct by spiritual teachers
  • Consider the importance of self-care and peer support as preventive measures

Please note that the topics in the course can be challenging, particularly for those who have experienced abuse or misconduct themselves or within their spiritual communities. The course may open up difficult memories and emotions, and we strongly recommend that all participants have ready access to a counselor /therapist or other support system.

How Is the Course Structured?

The course runs for five consecutive weeks. It comprises on-demand, self-paced video curriculum and readings, online forum discussions, weekly written assignments, three live Zoom sessions with the instructors in Week I, Week III and Week V, and a final writing assignment. There are five weekly modules:

Week I: Introduction; Power, Abuse of Power, Transference, and Vulnerability

Week II: Boundary Violations

Week III: Clergy Sexual Misconduct

Week IV: Impact on Victims and Sanghas

Week V: Prevention & Self-Care

Workload to be expected

Participants in the course should expect to spend a minimum of three to five hours per week, on reading and viewing the course material and written participation on the discussion forum and writing a weekly essay. This may increase especially if English is not their first or fluent language.

Additionally there is the participation in five 1.5 hour on-line discussions (through the Zoom Platform) at the start of weeks 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as at the end of the course.