16 Mar What Is a Buddhist Psychotherapist?
Posted at 7:00 am in Couples Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy by jlbworks
There are many potential causes of distress within a person’s mind. A particular event can cause recurring negative emotions. A conversation can leave someone’s emotions fragile. A physical accident can leave a person hobbled and wishing they were at a different point in their life.
These are but a few of the countless scenarios in which a person can find themselves seeking a means of calming the storms in their mind. And just how there are many reasons for a person to seek help, there are also many methods of treating these negative thoughts and emotions.
Psychotherapy is generally regarded as a “Western” practice while Buddhism is firmly associated with the “East.” Combining these two methods of exploring the mind might seem counterintuitive. However, the last few decades have seen many practitioners merging the two methods.
Buddhism and Psychotherapy: Defined
The practice of combining psychotherapy with Buddhism is quite varied depending on the practitioner and the needs of the patient. However, there are some overarching themes and mindsets that run throughout the two schools of thought.
To better understand what goes into the work of a Buddhist psychotherapist, let’s briefly explain each discipline.
To put it succinctly, psychotherapy is talk therapy. This can be done in a variety of scenarios — individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and couples therapy. It can be used to treat both adults and children.
The main idea is to work through mental and emotional problems by exploring them with a trained professional. Psychotherapy is used to treat problems stemming from trauma, medical illness, loss of a loved one, troubles in everyday life, and many other issues.
It is typically performed through sessions for a certain amount of time — usually once a week for 30-50 minutes.
Medication can be used in conjunction with psychotherapy, but it is usually the goal to avoid the use of medications.
Buddhism has its roots in India and has over 520 million followers, making it the world’s fourth-largest religion. It is based on the teachings and philosophies of the Buddha. The essence of these teachings revolve around the Four Noble Truths:
- The Truth of Suffering
- The Truth of the Cause of Suffering
- The Truth of the End of Suffering
- The Truth of the Path That Leads to the End of Suffering
To put it another way — suffering exists and there are causes of this suffering. However, there is also an end to suffering and a means of achieving that end.
The term “suffering” isn’t meant to give a negative view of the world. It simply acknowledges its existence which leads to an attempt to correct it.
There is much more to the Buddhist belief system such as the ideas of rebirth and karma. Visit here for a more in-depth explanation of Buddhism.
How Do They Combine?
A Buddhist Psychotherapist combines elements from each school of thought to create an ingrained method of exploring the consciousness of their patients. This includes the ideas of mindfulness, self-reflection, and ability of our minds to hide our true motivations and beliefs.
A patient will be asked to talk through their problems, exploring what brought them there and how they think that path informs their future. The acknowledgement of suffering from Buddhism also brings along the truth that there is a cause and a means of ending it.
This tenant is important for the patient to understand. Those in the grips of severe mental despair might lose sight of the possibility of the end to their suffering. But it exists. And a Buddhist Psychotherapist aims to help their patients find it.
Do I Have to Be Buddhist to Go to a Buddhist Psychotherapist?
Buddhism informs the approach to the sessions of psychotherapy, but it is not required for the patient to have a firm understanding or even a belief in the religion. There are many ideas within the teachings of Buddhism that are applicable to everybody.
These teachings include the idea that you can stop hating and judging yourself for previous actions and thoughts. Mindfulness of your present moment is also a great teaching from Buddhism, as is the awareness of change. Our surroundings and our lives are constantly in a state of change, and it’s important to accept and recognize this.
Where Can I Find a Buddhist Psychotherapist in Nashville, TN?
Dr. Phil Chanin is a licensed clinical psychologist that provides consultation services as a Buddhist psychotherapist in Nashville, TN. He is board certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology. Dr. Chanin is also a nationally-Certified Group Psychotherapist and an Advance Imago Therapist.
He has years of experience helping people work through their issues without the help of medications.