Why come to psychotherapy at all?
Life brings with it a cycle of ups and downs, alternating between periods of relative ease and well-being and times of great stress and difficulty. Sometimes, the cause of our difficulties may be clear to us, such as a bereavement, a failing relationship or difficulties at work that may stir a deep sense of grief, fear, or lack of confidence. At other times, the exact cause of our dis-ease may be unknown and experienced only as a vague sense of dissatisfaction, frustration, flatness or agitation. Some of us may also experience depression.
Conditioned reactions permeate our interactions with our environment and we can easily fall into habitual ways of seeing, thinking and doing. Patterned ways of being can cause us to close down our possibilities and narrow our options in life, making us lose touch with what is deepest in ourselves.
Although many clients enter into a therapeutic relationship because of difficulties, there are also many whose motivation is simply the desire to grow in awareness, to become more true to oneself and to awaken more spontaneity and aliveness.
What is Contemplative or Buddhist Psychotherapy, and how is it different from traditional psychotherapy?
Contemplative Psychotherapy is the blending of Western psychotherapy with Buddhist awareness practices. From this perspective, our ability to be present with whatever arises in the moment is the foundation for meaningful psychotherapy. Our actual experience is the doorway to self-acceptance and authentic change.
Traditional psychotherapy tends to pathologize people’s pain, and generally focuses on changing or fixing undesirable symptoms. From the contemplative point of view, our basic nature is intrinsically healthy but our awareness of this health is often obscured. Contemplative psychotherapy is a process of uncovering this fully awake and aware state. We become liberated from unnecessary suffering through experiencing ourselves in the moment, exactly as we are.
Do I have to be a Buddhist or be familiar with Buddhist philosophy to receive or benefit from this therapy?
No, not at all. While Contemplative Psychotherapy is derived from Buddhist teachings, it does not require any knowledge of, interest or participation in meditation or Buddhism. Contemplative psychotherapy simply offers secular and logic-based tools to free us from unnecessary struggles.
Why is this form of Contemplative or Buddhist Psychotherapy called “Core Process Psychotherapy”?
Core—The unconditioned self, a place of intrinsic health and inherent freedom
Process—The movement from our core state to our personality shape
Core Process Psychotherapy—Paying attention to this shaping process as it is happening right now, and bringing awareness to the way we hold on to our past experiences in the present moment
Why can’t I see you for Core Process Psychotherapy and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy at the same time?
Core Process Psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is considered a form of bodywork. Psychotherapy and bodywork have very different contracts, whether formalized or tacit, between the therapist and client. At the heart of the psychotherapeutic experience is the client’s intention of enquiry into her or his life, and thus the sharing of very private information with the therapist. The relationship between the client and therapist needs to be held in such a way that the client feels enough safety to bring any concerns into therapy. This requires a clear relationship between client and therapist. The mixing of different therapies can compromise the clarity of relationship, and thus the sense of safety.
If we work together in Core Process Psychotherapy and you would like to receive Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy or Rolfing, I can refer you to other practitioners of these modalities.
What does a typical session look like?
What a Core Process Psychotherapy session might look like would be different depending on the client. Since Core Process Psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy, it has the tendency for therapist and client to sit across from each other and engage into enquiry that would usually start through conversation and then deepen and expand to include all aspects of the human experience.
However, that is not the only form that it can take, depending on the inclination of the therapist. I personally would offer the client to choose between sitting in a chair or sofa or working on the floor with cushions. Also, depending on the session, I may ask the client if I can make physical contact. Physical contact usually means a light touch on the client’s body with one or two hands. However, because this is psychotherapy and not bodywork, touch is included in the work within the framework of psychotherapy.
How long is therapy?
It is generally recommended that there are around 6 initial sessions to give you an opportunity to experience the essence of the work. At the end of this initial period, we review the work and decide whether and how to work longer-term. Core process work is most effective when continued for a year or more. Lasting change usually takes time to achieve and consolidate.
How often should I come to therapy?
Sessions are recommended on a weekly basis.
Is therapy confidential?
Confidentiality is absolute, unless you provide me with written permission to disclose information to someone else. There are also a few important exceptions where normal confidentiality may be lifted, such as when you are a danger to yourself or others, and when there are legal limits on the extent of confidentiality.
How do I get started with therapy?
The first thing to do is to arrange an appointment with me. The initial meeting is free of charge, and is an opportunity for us to meet and explore your intention for seeking therapy and whether it matches with what I am able to offer. It is important that you feel right about your choice of therapist. I will support you in this process, and if necessary, can refer you to one of my colleagues.