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Book: Spirituality and Wellbeing

Chapter: 10. Compassionate Presence: Buddhist Practice and the Person-Centred Approach to Counselling and Psychotherapy

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.35873


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.

Chapter Contributors

  • Rebecca Seale ( - rseale) 'Coleg Sir Gar'