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The Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus

The Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus

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Published by: unsuiboddhi on Jun 17, 2012
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 THE JEWEL IN THE HEART OF THE LOTUS:BRINGING BUDDHIST WISDOM AND COMPASSION TO PSYCHOTHERAPYLisa E. JonesTHESIS SUBMITTED IN FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTSFOR THE DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY DEGREEAUGUST 24, 2007SCHOOL OF PSYCHOLOGYFACULTY OF ARTS, EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENTVICTORIA UNIVERSITY
 
Buddhism and Psychotherapy 2ABSTRACTThis thesis was designed to explore the experiences of psychologists in Australiawho work as psychotherapists, and who have an interest in Buddhism. The core researchquestion was:
What are the professional and personal experiences and perspectives of  psychologists in Australia who are informed by Buddhism in the way they conceptualise,approach, and conduct psychotherapy?
Two related supporting questions were:
 How do Buddhist principles inform different aspects of psychotherapy (e.g., therapist self-care,client interventions)?
and
 In what ways do therapists incorporate Buddhist concepts(e.g., compassion) and techniques (e.g., mindfulness) into psychotherapy?
 In Study 1, the qualitative core of the research, I explored the experiences andimpressions of psychologists interested in bringing a Buddhist perspective to psychotherapy. Initial and follow-up interviews were conducted with 14 participants.Buddhist understandings, including suffering, compassion, and mindfulness, werediscussed in relation to psychotherapy. Participant psychologists revealed that certainBuddhist ideas and techniques contributed to their perceived efficacy and wellbeing astherapists, as well as to good therapeutic processes and outcomes for clients. Using aninterpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach, the two guiding principles of 
compassion
and
wisdom
emerged from the interviews. Under the guiding principle of compassion, the two major themes that emerged were:
the truth of suffering 
(sub-themes:
an acknowledgement of suffering 
,
causes of suffering 
, and
 suffering as a path
),and
compassionate engagement 
(sub-themes:
empathy
,
openness
, and
hopefulness
). Theguiding principle of wisdom also incorporated two major themes:
mindful presence
(sub-themes:
a present orientation
,
the primacy of direct experience
, and
being with what is
),and
empowerment through understanding 
(sub-themes:
responsibility
,
disclosure
, and
 sustaining 
).
 
Buddhism and Psychotherapy 3The benefits participants perceived for themselves included being sustained byBuddhism, and having increased empathy and mindfulness during therapy. The Buddhisttechniques and ideas that participants employed with clients were selected withdiscernment for their therapeutic benefits along with their compatibility with Western psychology. Participants also used their discretion to select those techniques and ideasthat had wide applicability in that they were common to many philosophical andreligious systems. Although some participants took an integrationist approach todrawing on Buddhism in psychotherapy, and others took an eclectic approach, all sharedthe concernof remaining client-centred. Attributing Buddhist sources and labels to concepts andtechniques was considered unnecessary in most cases.Study 2 provided descriptive background information and gave support to thequalitative themes that emerged from Study 1. Members of the Buddhism andPsychology Interest Group, the Christianity and Psychology Interest Group, and theCollege of Counselling Psychologists of the Australian Psychological Society (APS)completed a personal details survey, the Spiritual Orientation Inventory
 
(SOI; Elkins,Hedstrom, Hughes, Leaf, & Saunders, 1988), and the Marlowe-Crowne SocialDesirability Scale – Short Form C (W. M. Reynolds, 1982), indicating their spiritual paths and religious affiliations, and the relative importance of different dimensions of spirituality. The main dimension on which the Buddhism and Psychology Interest Groupscored higher than the other two groups was the
 Awareness of the Tragic
dimension.The results are interpreted with reference to Buddhist, Christian, and secular understandings. The thesis concludes with a chapter on my personal reflections asresearcher in the research process.

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