Tibetan Buddhism meets western psychology and counseling: a dynamic interface




Campbell, Joanna

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Buddhist teachings and practices have developed over the past 2500 years. The mid-twentieth century saw an unprecedented level of contact between Tibetan Buddhist practitioners and western scholars and professionals, encouraging considerable discussion about the contributions that Tibetan Buddhism could offer to western psychology and counseling. Scholars such as Alan Wallace who are familiar with both sides of this interface believe that there is a great deal of practical benefit that Tibetan Buddhism could bring into western psychology and counseling, but it is believed that it is important to maintain the meditation and mind training techniques within the cultural context and value system from which they were derived. Proponents of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy do not feel that the cultural aspects of Tibetan Buddhism are compatible with their clinical approach, and would prefer to analyze the mind training techniques in a culturally neutral environment. Nonetheless, there are those among them that question whether it is possible to remove the techniques from their cultural context without destroying their essence. The developers of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction view Buddhist meditation and practices as potential remedies for over stressed western minds. The importance of learning from highly advanced meditation practitioners is emphasized. Insight Meditation has developed an approach which combines meditation and Buddhist practices with psychology and counseling. A more controversial viewpoint is that Buddhist practice and thought should be pared down to its barest utilitarian components in order to make it simpler and more accessible. Feminist counselors and Buddhist practitioners in the west have expressed that the gender biases inherent in Buddhist traditions are not appropriate in the west. Many opportunities will exist for further literature reviews exploring the interface between Tibetan Buddhism and western psychology and counseling.



Tibetan, Buddhism, counseling, psychology, interface, therapy, teacher, client, west, meditation, insight, feminism, spiritual, Dalai Lama