What is Contemplative Psychotherapy?
Contemplative psychotherapy is a practical and therapeutic application of mindfulness practice.
Contemplative means an emphasis on developing a mindfulness practice such as meditation. Without some sort of mindful practice to take into daily life, talk therapy can simply stay on the level of concept. Primarily this means that your therapist maintains a mindfulness practice which informs the therapeutic process. Practices can also be shared with the client, for added efficacy of treatment. The practice element helps you to incorporate new ways of showing up in your life. So contemplative psychotherapy brings mindfulness to the therapeutic process.
Psychotherapy addresses practical as well as deeper psychological issues. Whether you need to heal from a family trauma, deal with a loss, creatively approach a career transition, or revise unhealthy habits, psychotherapy offers solutions. Click here to listen to one of my former professors and mentors, Bruce Tift, M.A., LMFT, to get a glimpse into how contemplative psychotherapy works.
Training The Mind
Contemplative psychotherapy is essentially about re-training the mind-- transforming a reactive (or sleeping) mechanism into a creative tool. It's about turning your mind into an ally rather than an adversary to be defeated. In my work, all sessions include mindfulness practices and "homework," essentially practices to observe between sessions. Mindfulness practices are the foundation to create changes in your career, relationships and life.
When you incorporate contemplative practice into your life, things shift. I can’t promise that you will automatically have a more meaningful, rich and balanced life, but with practice, you will definitely begin to see things in a new way. New insights allow you to revisit long held beliefs and question whether or not those beliefs are still valid for you.
These practices work, but you have to do them diligently. And without a guide that can be extremely difficult. It helps to have someone who has walked the path to guide you.
It Helps To Have A Guide
My job as your Contemplative Psychotherapist is to hold the space of awareness throughout our dialogue, allowing you to recognize and identify how issues manifest in your life. Once we have a map of the terrain we are working with, I'll invite you to look underneath the issues to the source. Together we will reframe your experience until it becomes clear what the lessons are, and how to approach them.
All you need to be happy is in this present moment. It’s right here, right now. But here is the caveat: you have to actually BE in the present moment to be able to recognize that. If you are preoccupied with worries and thoughts, emotionally charged or physically dull, distracted by phones or future plans, then you are not present. If you are self conscious about how you look or what others think, if anything interrupts your direct experience in the moment, then you are not fully present. When you can tune in to the beauty of each present moment, even the not so beautiful moments, then a shift takes place.
A Shift In Perception
Awareness blooms and you can just drop your story line.
When you start to tune in and make friends with your mind, things start to manifest differently. You start to change your own world. This then extends out to change the larger world, because your interactions with people will be different, and your relationships start to change. So your evolution as an individual eventually brings about revolution in your world.
Changing your own perspective is what helps make change in the world. Evolution on a personal level creates global revolution. So your personal work to build a healthy relationship to your mind causes a shift that is felt throughout the planet.
While your more immediate goals may be focused on your microcosm, know that any work you do for yourself will translate into great benefit for all sentient beings. And we all benefit from that.