Book: Spirituality and Wellbeing
Chapter: 10. Compassionate Presence: Buddhist Practice and the Person-Centred Approach to Counselling and Psychotherapy
At the heart of Buddhist teaching is the importance of facing the suffering inherent in human existence and in so doing the path to well-being also becomes illuminated. One aspect of this eight-fold path is mindfulness, a practice gaining an increasingly wide-spread popularity in the West. In the field of counselling and psychotherapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is one of the best known approaches combining Buddhism and therapy. In a medicalised culture that increasingly pathologises everyday human experience of birth, sickness, aging and death, attempts to promote well-being through combining such differing paradigms as mindfulness and Western psychotherapy, whilst fitting in well with the medical model’s need for easy-to-measure approaches, may miss the wider context of Buddhist practice.
With its emphasis on a way of being with clients in therapy, the person-centred approach does not sit comfortably within a medical model. Drawing on a small-scale qualitative research study, this chapter will explore how Buddhist practice through the cultivation of presence within a person-centred approach can promote well-being in a therapeutic relationship in a way that offers the potential for a holistic synthesis of Buddhism and psychotherapy.