What is Contemplative Buddhist Psychotherapy?
Contemplative Psychotherapy is a blend of Western Psychology and Buddhist Psychology. A degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy can be earned at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Contemplative Psychotherapy focuses on how you relate to yourself first and foremost. We then move on to how you relate to others keeping in mind your self awareness, strengths, needs and desires. Aside from traditional psychology, Contemplative Psychotherapists are trained in the philosophy and mindfulness/awareness practices of Buddhism. The intensive training allows us to delve deep into the human experience of mind and stay present. This is important because Buddhist thought on suffering is that the individual creates distraction to avoid the full experience of reality. In other words, we learn at an early age to filter out aspects of our authentic experience in order to conform to a status quo. A Contemplative therapist is trained in helping the client achieve a more accurate picture of their experience.
How is Contemplative Buddhist Psychotherapy different from the traditional Western method of psychotherapy?
The methods are very similar, but the view is different. Contemplative Psychotherapy simply concentrates on you first. Western Psychotherapy pathologizes people’s pain and suffering. Basically, a diagnosis is needed and that diagnosis dictates treatment. Contemplative Buddhist Psychotherapy does not require an interest in Buddhism or meditation. It is a secular form of therapy. Eastern wisdom traditions view the individual as inherently good and Contemplative Psychotherapy promotes that view. In addition, there is an emphasis on present moment experiences rather than relying on past experiences alone. It is a here and now therapy that can cultivates mindfulness and awareness. Clients obtain skills and knowledge they can utilize during and after therapy.
When do I need therapy?
The decision to enter therapy is a personal one. People seek out a therapist for many different reasons. Usually when someone seeks a therapist, he or she is experiencing a crisis, painful emotional event or persistent thoughts, feelings, behaviors which interfere with daily work or relationships. Some indicators that therapy may be right for you are:
- Difficulty maintaining relationships or repetitive problems in relationships
- Self-destructive behaviors or self-sabotaging
- Difficulty dealing with a life altering event
- Being bothered by traumatic memories
- Feeling depressed, anxious, fearful, angry, agitated
- Being preoccupied, worried, confused
- Trouble keeping or advancing at work due to behavior
- Persistent emotional problem that is not improving
- No one else has been able to help
How long will therapy last?
Therapy can last from a few weeks to many years. It all depends on the client. There is no black and white answer as to how long therapy should or will last. The therapist and the client should discuss the treatment goals and reevaluate them on a regular basis to see if they are being met, if further treatment is needed or if the client is ready for treatment to end. There are several clues to be aware of in determining if it is the right time to end therapy, which include:
- You encounter significantly fewer problems
- You know how to take care of yourself
- You can deal with your problems effectively
- You can tolerate change, pain or difficulties
- You can maintain healthy relationships
What about insurance?
I can work with clients as an out-of-network therapist. This means that the insurance company may reimburse the client for a percentage of the cost of therapy. Call and find out with the insurance company if they cover mental health and what the percentage is for out-of-network therapists. The therapist will need a copy of the insurance card and will fill out paper work that is then sent to the insurance company for reimbursement.
When insurance is used, the insurance company and sometimes employers have access to very private information, like the client’s diagnosis. In addition, insurance companies limit the length of therapy based on the diagnosis which the insurance company requires to be given. Before choosing a therapist based on whether he or she accepts insurance, I would urge any person seeking therapy to consider the confidentiality ramifications it may have.
What can I expect at my first appointment?
My first priority is to help make you comfortable. Many people are nervous coming into therapy. I strive to make it as easy as possible. I will ask you questions about your background, family, relationships, health, and your reasons for coming to therapy. I will listen actively to what you say in an effort to help you communicate your thoughts and feelings. People have varied reactions during the first session. Some are more reserved, taking time to build trust and be comfortable with the therapist. Others however, are so relieved at finally being in therapy, that they open up immediately.
How often do I meet with my therapist?
This also depends on the client’s needs. Usually, I see people once a week initially. However, this can vary to as little as once a month to as much as needed based on how severe the client’s needs are at the time. The frequency should be enough to make adequate and effective progress towards the treatment goals.
Is Contemplative Psychotherapy right for you?
Contemplative Psychotherapy can be helpful for everyone. However, one of the most important aspects of therapy is that you have a therapist with whom you are comfortable. Trust is important to feel safe in opening up and sharing. I offer a confidential and safe environment in which to explore one’s experience. Please feel free to call. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.