Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Is Buddhism a psychological therapy?

SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Possibly imaginary giant hedgehogChasing dinsdale Veteran
An open question. What do you think?
«1

Comments

  • JayanthaJayantha | Student of the Path | New Jersey Veteran
    edited November 2013
    Venerable Dr. K Sri Dhammananda called it exactly that, psychotherapy.

    It is a practice of training the mind to abandon unskillul habitual mental qualities, and replace them with skillful ones, thereby creating a more beneficial world for yourself and those around you.

    I would venture to make the gap that this is pretty much how the buddha taught the practice as well.
    blu3reeWisdom23
  • Buddhism is the stoicism of the east. But since the east understands everything in terms of religion, Buddhism has now officially become a religion. TBH, it is more like a coping mechanism in a dukkha-filled world.
    Wisdom23
  • betaboy said:

    TBH, it is more like a coping mechanism in a dukkha-filled world.

    This is exactly what entry level Buddhism is about.
    The Buddha gave teachings to all comers. Someone in a dukkha filled world hears what he needs to.
  • Yes, and a very effective one. Some of the leading thinkers in the realm of psychology adhere to Buddhist beliefs.

    Neuroplasticity is extremely Buddhist in nature. Acceptance and Commitment therapy has roots in mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy. There is now a Compassion focused therapy, which definitely has Buddhist roots. Then there is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (mindfulness and compassion) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. Then there are plain old Buddhist Psychologists.

    Buddhism has definitely arrived in psychological circles.
  • Yes, and a very effective one. Some of the leading thinkers in the realm of psychology adhere to Buddhist beliefs.

    Neuroplasticity is extremely Buddhist in nature. Acceptance and Commitment therapy has roots in mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy. There is now a Compassion focused therapy, which definitely has Buddhist roots. Then there is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (mindfulness and compassion) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. Then there are plain old Buddhist Psychologists.

    Buddhism has definitely arrived in psychological circles.

    I believe you are using a small truth ("Some of the leading thinkers in the realm of psychology adhere to Buddhist beliefs"...some being the key word, and not also pointing out that most psychologists aren't at all into Buddhism) to see Buddhism everywhere...because you are Buddhist.

  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran
    edited November 2013
    Is Buddhism a psychological therapy?
    No more so than any other religion or philosophy.
    There are people who use Christian principles and dogma to try to change the psychology of people. People (generally speaking), use religion - any religion - to try to change the psychology of people.
    However, I think it's important to recognize that narrow line that divides behavior from actual psychology.

    In other words, one's behavior is mostly the symptom of one's psychology.
    And many things can eventually train/change behavior- from kisses and praise, to religious beliefs, to physical abuse and mind control. These influences might cause a few new psychological disorders; but they won't change a person's existing mental disorder. Then again, neither will any other "therapy".
    There is also that line between therapy and cure... And round and round we go! LOL
    vinlyn
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2013
    Yes, of course. The Buddha was the first psychologist, aeons ahead of Freud (and rather better at it, if you ask me)! Psychologists today study Buddhism and incorporate "Buddhist psychology" into their practice. I've been in classes offered by lamas teaching specific texts, and 1/2 the students there were professional psychologists. I've always considered it psychology.
  • What percent of psychologists specifically incorporate Buddhism into their practice?
  • FWIW:
    Just because lots of psychologists or people interested in psychology are also interested in Buddhism , or become Buddhists, doesn't mean there is a "Buddhist psychology" they studied while becoming a psychologist.
    I have a higher education in psychology / counseling, and in all the texts and papers I've read, and lectures I attended, no one discussed or even mentioned Buddhism as a formal accessory to therapies. And I was in my latest classes not so long ago, (2008).
    Now, true, I have heard of individual therapists and counselors who do incorporate a "Buddhist philosophy" into their sessions.... but there is no formal education or instruction to do that, as far as I know.
    vinlynChaz
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2013
    vinlyn said:

    What percent of psychologists specifically incorporate Buddhism into their practice?

    Are you conducting a survey?

    @MaryAnne Apparently they can get Continuing Education credits for some types of Buddhist instruction. I'm not sure of the details.

  • anatamananataman Sitting comfortably སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་ Veteran
    edited November 2013
    NO. Buddhism is Buddhism, and to restrict it to fit a modern idea - no - NO NO no.

    Modern psychology therapies diagnose 'you' with a 'problem', and provide 'you' with a therapy (and that might cost you something - how are you going to pay for it!!!!). 'buddhism reveals the source of all problems', and tells 'you' to 'examine your 'self' and it's 'desires' and give you a formula that enables 'you' to treat the problem 'yourself!''

    4 CME points...
  • Dakini said:

    vinlyn said:

    What percent of psychologists specifically incorporate Buddhism into their practice?

    Are you conducting a survey?

    @MaryAnne Apparently they can get Continuing Education credits for some types of Buddhist instruction. I'm not sure of the details.

    Buddhist course credit is one thing. Psychology-Buddhist course credit is quite another thing, and to suggest that significant numbers of psychologists who are not Buddhist (and most aren't) incorporate Buddhist principles into their work (any more than Christian psychologists incorporate Christian principles into theirs) is simply wanting your religion to be everything...and it's not.

    But, if you can cite evidence of any widespread movement in psychology toward Buddhism, I'm willing to listen...and BTW, that's something I have almost never advocated in this forum (citing evidence).

    MaryAnne
  • Buddhism stands on its own. Even though for some it will be an exotic psychotherapy.
    vinlynMaryAnne
  • It can definitely be an effective coping mechanism, as can all religions. I personally am finding a kind of peace from just a couple short months of exploring Buddhism that I haven't been able to achieve from years of therapy. But Buddhism and therapy aren't the same thing just because they can have similar effects. Alcohol brings me inner peace too, but that's not therapy!

    Obviously, I'm not implying that the peace gained from Buddhism is as fleeting or insignificant as that gained from alcohol- I'm just pointing out that just about everything is designed to eliminate or lessen suffering in some way. Psychology is a different attempt by different people using different methods to acheive the goals of Buddhism (greater self awareness and the elimination or lessening of suffering).
    vinlynMaryAnne
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2013
    @vinlyn I was just answering the OP's question. Psychologists do study Buddhism and "Buddhist Psychology", and find it useful in their practice, which would be one indication that Buddhism does offer a form of psychology. Stress relief. It works. Try it. :thumbsup:
  • Psychologists do study Christianity and "Christian Psychology", and find it useful in their practice, which would be one indication that Christianity does offer a form of psychology. Stress relief. It works. Try it.
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    I would have thought the goal of each is different though?
    MaryAnne
  • Bunks said:

    I would have thought the goal of each is different though?

    Yes, exactly, although I know that sometimes they can work toward a common goal.

    In addition to my previous comments, a neighbor 8 townhouses up from me is a psychologist for one of the Christian mega-churches here in Colorado Springs. She works for them using Christian principles in her psychology practice, and also has a private practice of her own. (Regrettably, in her late-50s, she recently had an oppressive stroke, and it is doubtful she will ever work again).

  • Namaste,

    When I started studying psychotherapy, I did find many similarities between the two.

    In metta,
    Raven
  • lobsterlobster Samsara Veteran
    I do not feel therapy is a substitute for dharma but therapy may enable our ability to practice dharma.
    We have enough crazy Buddhists and sufficient counsellors in therapy. Where do we go for sanity?

    Mr Cushion is my imaginary friend. I am beginning to suspect he has no qualifications . . .
    ExpedientMeans
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Olympia, WA Veteran
    Buddhism ISN'T any particular distinct thing, as much as our minds want to conceptualize and define it. It is useful as a psychology and as a cosmology. If you sit back objectively and watch what the human mind does with spontaneous wisdom when it arises (Jesus, Mohammed, Siddhartha Gotama, Moses among others) we tend to add . . . well, embellishment to the 'original' teaching (and the teacher) over the years.

    We'll never ever know the absolute truth of Gotama's actual words or intentions, and it doesn't matter. It's what we do with his wisdom in our lives and how it impacts other people.

    Gassho :)

    poptartlobsterMaryAnneourself
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Possibly imaginary giant hedgehog Chasing dinsdale Veteran
    vinlyn said:


    But, if you can cite evidence of any widespread movement in psychology toward Buddhism, I'm willing to listen...and BTW, that's something I have almost never advocated in this forum (citing evidence).

    Mindfulness seems to have become quite fashionable in therapeutic circles, one example being MBSR ( Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction ).
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Possibly imaginary giant hedgehog Chasing dinsdale Veteran
    betaboy said:

    ...it is more like a coping mechanism in a dukkha-filled world.

    Yes, I've wondered about the distinction between coping with dukkha and transcending dukkha.
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Possibly imaginary giant hedgehog Chasing dinsdale Veteran
    Bunks said:

    I would have thought the goal of each is different though?

    I think one difference is that therapy aims to heal the self, while Buddhist practice aims to transcend the self.
    poptart
  • lobsterlobster Samsara Veteran

    I think one difference is that therapy aims to heal the self, while Buddhist practice aims to transcend the self.

    I haz a self to therapize or transcend? Do I also gets my soul back from the nice man with the pointed tail who bought it for a tin of sardines?

    ;)
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Sigmund Freud, I think it was, said that the aim of psychotherapy is simply to transform neurotic suffering back into existential suffering and the aim of Buddhism is to overcome existential suffering. In that regard, they are quite different as they have different intentions. Modern psychological therapy normally does not even touch existential suffering.

    But if you think of it in simple terms of a disease, with a cause and a treatment, then you could say they are quite similar. Although, what is considered a disease varies significantly between the two.
  • AllbuddhaBoundAllbuddhaBound Veteran
    edited November 2013
    I am sure Jack Kornfield or Tara Brach will be perplexed to learn there is no such thing as Buddhist Psychology. That is the specific form of psychology those two practice.

    Several third wave Cognitive Behavior Therapies are steeped in Buddhist philosophy. Not to say they use the entire Dharma, but specific segments are utilized repeatedly.
    Jeffrey
  • ourselfourself some guy The Hammer, Ontario Veteran
    edited November 2013
    lobster said:

    I think one difference is that therapy aims to heal the self, while Buddhist practice aims to transcend the self.

    I haz a self to therapize or transcend?
    If you didn't then using the term "I" would be pretty silly.

    lobster
  • AllbuddhaBoundAllbuddhaBound Veteran
    edited November 2013
    http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec03/tibetan.aspx

    There are many more examples of how the practiced has been incorporated. All you have to do is look for them.

    http://www.metta.org.uk/therap/psychotherapy/buddhist_psychology.asp

    There is no shortage of examples, of that you can be sure.
  • ourselfourself some guy The Hammer, Ontario Veteran
    It definitely is but that isn't all it is.

    Many of us right here have attested to that fact without trying to and I can count about 20 threads on page one of this forum dealing with psychological issues.
  • vinlyn said:


    But, if you can cite evidence of any widespread movement in psychology toward Buddhism, I'm willing to listen...and BTW, that's something I have almost never advocated in this forum (citing evidence).

    Mindfulness seems to have become quite fashionable in therapeutic circles, one example being MBSR ( Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction ).
    Mindfulness exists outside of Buddhism.

    MaryAnne
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Possibly imaginary giant hedgehog Chasing dinsdale Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    vinlyn said:


    But, if you can cite evidence of any widespread movement in psychology toward Buddhism, I'm willing to listen...and BTW, that's something I have almost never advocated in this forum (citing evidence).

    Mindfulness seems to have become quite fashionable in therapeutic circles, one example being MBSR ( Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction ).
    Mindfulness exists outside of Buddhism.
    Sure, but MBSR specifically uses the 4 foundations of mindfulness as described in the Satipatthana Sutta ( and they don't pay royalties to the Buddha! :D )

    Jeffrey
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Possibly imaginary giant hedgehog Chasing dinsdale Veteran
    seeker242 said:

    Sigmund Freud, I think it was, said that the aim of psychotherapy is simply to transform neurotic suffering back into existential suffering and the aim of Buddhism is to overcome existential suffering.

    Interesting distinction.
  • vinlyn said:

    vinlyn said:


    But, if you can cite evidence of any widespread movement in psychology toward Buddhism, I'm willing to listen...and BTW, that's something I have almost never advocated in this forum (citing evidence).

    Mindfulness seems to have become quite fashionable in therapeutic circles, one example being MBSR ( Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction ).
    Mindfulness exists outside of Buddhism.
    Sure, but MBSR specifically uses the 4 foundations of mindfulness as described in the Satipatthana Sutta ( and they don't pay royalties to the Buddha! :D )

    Fair enough, and I just scanned 10 random articles about it, and read one article in detail. It looks very worthwhile...and not once was Buddhism mentioned. And this brings me back to my first post in this thread, where I said that some want to "see Buddhism everywhere...because [they] are Buddhist". I've also stated that there are aspects of psychology and Buddhism that are compatible and accomplish similar things. But I asking critical thinkers to stop trying to make it look as if Buddhism is the foundation of everything good in the world. That's over-reach.



    MaryAnne
  • lobsterlobster Samsara Veteran
    Some say Siggy Freud was influenced by Kabbalah, Jung was influenced by alchemy.
    Dervishes have their therapy
    http://mto.org/spa/en/information.html
    and so on . . .

    Other psychological models try to improve the well being of self.
    Not sure Buddhist psychology works that way . . .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatta

    :D
    MaryAnne
  • edited November 2013
    Take it from somebody who has had a whole team of different therapists trying to figure out how the hell to make me normal...The "middle way" of therapy is to neither explicitly acknowledge or deny anything to do with religion. One of my ex-therapists was all about having a healthy "spiritual" life (though she would just spout off generic watered-down New Age stuff, that's why she's an ex-therapist), and another guy once shared the "truth" with me that there is probably no governing or creating force in the universe, and if there is, it is useless to engage it or contemplate it. Most would be able to speak to me in terms of my atheist/agnostic beliefs and then right after that speak to a Bible-reading Christian in terms of their beliefs.

    Mindfulness might be popular in psychology at the moment but to say that very many psychologists use Buddhism in its entirety to treat patient/clients is a bit of a stretch because *most* won't go to any supernatural/metaphysical/existential areas unless they get the vibe that's where you want to go. The good ones can adapt their practice to a person with any belief system...you could believe that we all live in someone else's dream and we'll be gone the second they wake up and a good therapist would be able to work with that.

    Unlike 12 Step programs, which really do require you to have a faith in a supernatural higher power (sure, they'll tell you that your higher power can be just random chance during the first step, but three or four steps later, they'll want you to start developing a relationship with you higher power...if you said the higher power you are powerless to is just the luck of the draw, now you've got a gambling addiction you have to deal with!)
    vinlynMaryAnne
  • Take it from somebody who has had a whole team of different therapists trying to figure out how the hell to make me normal...The "middle way" of therapy is to neither explicitly acknowledge or deny anything to do with religion. One of my ex-therapists was all about having a healthy "spiritual" life (though she would just spout off generic watered-down New Age stuff, that's why she's an ex-therapist), and another guy once shared the "truth" with me that there is probably no governing or creating force in the universe, and if there is, it is useless to engage it or contemplate it. Most would be able to speak to me in terms of my atheist/agnostic beliefs and then right after that speak to a Bible-reading Christian in terms of their beliefs.

    Mindfulness might be popular in psychology at the moment but to say that very many psychologists use Buddhism in its entirety to treat patient/clients is a bit of a stretch because *most* won't go to any supernatural/metaphysical/existential areas unless they get the vibe that's where you want to go. The good ones can adapt their practice to a person with any belief system...you could believe that we all live in someone else's dream and we'll be gone the second they wake up and a good therapist would be able to work with that.

    Unlike 12 Step programs, which really do require you to have a faith in a supernatural higher power (sure, they'll tell you that your higher power can be just random chance during the first step, but three or four steps later, they'll want you to start developing a relationship with you higher power...if you said the higher power you are powerless to is just the luck of the draw, now you've got a gambling addiction you have to deal with!)

    Yes, most that I know of use Buddhism in its' entirety. Some do though. Jack Kornfield for example.

    A little interesting read. Just because Buddhist Psychotherapeutic approaches are the new kid on the block, don't dismiss them out of hand.

    http://www.milesneale.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/WhatBuddhistPsychotherapyReallyIs.pdf

    There is always a lot of resistance when new ideas are introduced. We have generations of therapists trained in a certain way and considering Buddhist thought represents a lot of need to retrain and rethink. It can be quite daunting.
  • And psychotherapy styles go out of style, too. I hate to think of all the styles that were around when I was studying psychology back in the mid-1970s and are now pretty much gone with the wind.
    MaryAnne
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Olympia, WA Veteran
    I agree @vinlyn, the styles go out of style . . . but the 'new' style arises from the 'old' style, it can't come from thin air.
  • If Buddhism itself, is some sort of stand-alone "psychology" that is appropriate for psychological counseling, why is it that the Dalai Lama isn't licensed to practice as a psychologist? Well, shouldn't he be? He is certainly well versed in Buddhist principles and practices. Why don't monks counsel people outside the realm of Buddhism?

    Someone mentioned Jack Kornfield earlier, up the thread. Jack Kornfield is a well versed, well trained, much experienced student and teacher of Buddhism/meditation, for at least a few decades;
    yet he went to a University for 6 years to get a psychology degree... after years of being a Buddhist. And so would the Dalai Lama, and Ajahn Brahm, and Pema Chodron, and any other well respected, learned Buddhist monk, author, or teacher.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with incorporating some of the basic principles of Buddhism into established therapy practices of psychology or even psychiatry.

    But to assume that means one can take a few basic principles of psychology and incorporate them into a Buddhist practice and it's the same thing as any mode of psychological therapy ? Um.... no.

    While it's true that new styles, 'radical' and different ideas and theories come up for use in the field of psychology, they don't all pan out.
    Most turn out to be fly-by-night trends and experiments that don't stick around long... while some just might become mainstream and respected.

    Time will tell for the "Buddhism Psychology" trend we're seeing now... and right now that's all it is. Good, bad or neutral, it's still a trend at this point. But seriously, it's no more 'radical' than Christian psychology, or Hebrew psychology, or whatever religion one wants to blend into therapy. It's been done with them all.

    (YMMV)

    vinlynlobstercvalue
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2013
    I agree, @MaryAnne, but if I had to let go of my therapist or my guru I would choose to lose my therapist. That is because training my mind in a Buddhist sense ie towards enlightenment is more important than therapy,, I mean most people I've talked to about therapy have no idea if it helps them.
    lobsterpoptartourselfcvalue
  • Yeah, I would say it is psychological therapy. The Dharma gives us useful tools to self-analyze our issues.

  • If we are worried about the longevity of Buddhist approaches, uh, I don't worry too much.
  • Jeffrey said:

    I agree, @MaryAnne, but if I had to let go of my therapist or my guru I would choose to lose my therapist. That is because training my mind in a Buddhist sense ie towards enlightenment is more important than therapy,, I mean most people I've talked to about therapy have no idea if it helps them.

    Well @Jeffrey, to actually choose any "spiritual practice" over physical/mental therapy is ..... just scary and illogical to me.
    After all, how would you ever reach enlightenment (assuming that's a real possibility to begin with- not only for you, but anyone) if you're not mentally stable or healthy in the first place? Just saying....

    My education and experience in psychology and counseling really " tints my glasses " (as they say) - and I totally admit that. So that's the reasoning behind my opinions...

  • The reason is that the goal of psychotherapy doesn't reach nirvana. It's actually impossible to be for nirvana and against psychotherapy as you say for exactly for those reasons. It's just a thought experiment, but it is my choice and I would choose Buddhism. Many Bodhisattvas have given their lives for Buddhism (compassion). Only a high level Bodhisattva should give their body (in case anyone reads my words and wants to immolate themselves.. no don't burn yourself).

    I believe I have more benefit from Lama Shenpen than from my therapist. By a long shot. My awareness practice is at the center. Unconditional awareness and friendship with 'myself'. Only from that root can I then venture out to therapy. Otherwise I would have gaininig mind and try to 'get' something.

    The core is the nature of awareness and psychology doesn't understand the nature of awareness. Thus it cannot help you in the long run.

    That said it's just a thought experiment because therapy and Buddhism aren't at odds. But if I only had enough money for a guru versus a therapist I would 100% choose the one that works on the awareness mandala. And like I said most people don't really know what therapy helps them with. (that I have talked to). My dad says his therapist was like a person who went with him into his mind. That's good but I prefer my Lama's teachings to open to all difficulties as a path/teaching and relax into heart connections. A therapist doesn't know how to escape samsara.
    bookwormlobsterourselfcvalue
  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran
    edited November 2013
    ^^ And a Buddhist meditation teacher or a monk doesn't know how to effectively treat or medicate - if necessary- a person living with personality and sociopathic disorders, and other moderate-severe mental illnesses...

    You just can't 'meditate away' mental illness. I don't care HOW great one's guru is...
    So choosing your guru over a therapist is your (spiritual) choice... but it's not a wise choice as far as your mental health goes.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2013
    Indeed. The purpose of Buddha cannot escape mental illness. The goal is nirvana. I am more enlightened than I used to be but my illness has actually gotten worse with a development of auditory hallucinations. But my head is on straight because of Buddhism. Bank on it.

    You can't meditate away a hangover or a broken bone, but that has nothing to do with nirvana. Broken bones can even be a teacher. Remember I got involved with Buddhism (if you recall :) ) because of a mental breakdown. I thank God for that breakdown because otherwise I wouln't have noticed the diamond in my pocket and would be trying to fill the hole with the senses and status or whatever: sex, money, and power.
    lobsterHamsakaourselfcvalue
  • MaryAnne said:

    ^^ And a Buddhist meditation teacher or a monk doesn't know how to effectively treat or medicate - if necessary- a person living with personality and sociopathic disorders, and other moderate-severe mental illnesses...

    absolutely. I wouldn't try to meditate away a pimple would I? But a pimple is much less significant than greed, anger, and delusion.
«1
Sign In or Register to comment.