Christopher Germer, Mindful Self-Compassion

BiographyChristopher Germer Clinical Psychologist

Christopher Germer, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, specializing in mindfulness and compassion-based psychotherapy. He is a founding member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School, author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, and co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy: Deepening Mindfulness in Clinical Practice. Dr. Germer lectures and conducts workshops internationally on the art and science of mindful self-compassion.


Dr. Germer was raised in the New York metropolitan area and graduated from from Colby College, Waterville, Maine in 1974 with a BA in psychology. He then traveled abroad for three years, conducting research on selective attention in schizophrenia at the University Psychiatric Hospital in Tübingen, Germany, and a field study on indigenous mental health healing practices in India, under the guidance of the Bangalore National Institute of Mental Health. It was there that Dr. Germer became fascinated by the many varieties of yoga and meditation, and he returned to India over a dozen times to study with a variety of different teachers.

In 1978, Dr. Germer entered clinical psychology graduate school at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, receiving an MA degree in 1980 and a PhD in 1984. The title of his dissertation was “Contextual Treatment of Test Anxiety,” foreshadowing his interest in acceptance-based treatment of anxiety disorders.

After graduate school, Dr. Germer moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he met his wife, Claire, a molecular biologist, and they have been living in Cambridge ever since. Dr. Germer opened a private practice in 1985, and also worked part-time in a state psychiatric hospital and consulted to a hospital for terminally-ill patients for just over 10 years. During most years since 1984, Dr. Germer has been providing supervision to trainees at The Cambridge Hospital as a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School.

In 1985, Dr. Germer joined an ongoing, monthly study group on Buddhist psychology and psychotherapy. The Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy was created out of that study group in 1996—an organization dedicated to teaching mental health professionals how to integrate ancient Buddhist psychology into effective modern psychotherapy. Decades of conversations came together in 2005 with the publishing of a co-edited book, Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Mindfulness is the heart of Buddhist psychology, and interest in mindfulness and acceptance-based psychotherapy has recently blossomed to become a mainstream approach to psychotherapy.

Dr. Germer currently divides his time evenly between clinical practice and teaching/writing. He is a co-director of the annual Harvard Medical School “Meditation and Psychotherapy” conference. Dr. Germer is a committed student of insight meditation (vipassana) through the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. His main clinical interest is the need for self-compassion, in addition to mindfulness, to manage intense and difficult emotions. Toward that end, Dr. Germer and Dr. Kristin Neff (University of Texas) have co-developed the 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion program which is currently being taught around the world.