Please note that this page is intended for those who have an established meditation practice, and are considering psychotherapy with a therapist qualified to understand their special needs and challenges. You don't have to be an established meditator to benefit from contemplative psychotherapy, and this page may not interest you if you are not already doing regular Buddhist or other meditation practice.
As a meditator, you know that Buddhism is a well developed system for realizing our full potential - called enlightenment. Buddhism claims that our natural, inborn state is a clear and free awareness which is wise, joyful and compassionate in nature. Buddhist teachings present methods for accessing that inborn state, using meditation, visualization and constant practice in daily life.
If you have a meditation practice, you have a very precious opportunity for development. Yet, sometimes even seasoned meditators run into obstacles which meditation alone doesn't seem to penetrate. This may be due to culturally based needs, assumptions, and ways of learning which are standard in the West, but are not directly addressed in traditional Eastern meditation systems. In general, Westerners experience authority, identity, emotion, thoughts, family, community and work in culturally different ways from their Eastern counterparts. Many Western practitioners also face time constraints which present obstacles to more advanced traditional practice.
Some meditators feel therapy involves too much attention to self and to temporary personal issues. They want to focus solely on exploring the far reaches of human potential. This is an excellent aspiration, but if stubborn obstacles are blocking spiritual growth, it is best not to waste time. You have probably worked with a qualified teacher to learn meditation. In the same way, it may be useful to work with a qualified psychologist to learn methods for clearing culturally Western personal problems that haven't responded to traditional antidotes. If you want to build a rocket ship, you may need to rely on experts from more than one discipline!
- If your meditation practice is often overwhelmed by painful memories, thoughts or emotions, psychotherapy may help.
- If your meditation practice is not progressing because of distraction, boredom, or rumination, psychotherapy may help.
If your efforts to meditate regularly are overwhelmed by the demands of daily life, psychotherapy may help.
For a meditator in need of psychotherapy, working with a qualified contemplative psychologist may be especially effective.