Report: ‘Mindful Therapy’

Book review for MINDFUL THERAPY – A Guide for Therapists and Helping Professionals.

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Author: Ph.D. Thomas Bien

Publisher: Wisdom Publications

Keywords: helping, professionals, therapists, guide, therapy, mindful

Number of Pages: 272

Published: 2006-02-17

List price: $17.95

ISBN-10: 0861712927

ISBN-13: 9780861712922

Official Book Description:

Mindful Therapy is a welcome addition to the literature for psychotherapists, occupational therapists, therapists-in-training, and other types of teachers. A highly readable balance of theoretical groundwork, personal experience, case studies, and practice exercises, the book offers ways to bring the teachings of Buddhism into a psychotherapeutic practice, and provides a thorough explanation of the benefits of doing so. Grounded in his understanding of Buddhist teachings, Tom Bien’s suggestions are particularly valuable to beginning therapists or those still in training, offering ways that therapists can care for themselves amid the challenges of their practice.

This book is not a handbook or a manual on mindfulness – and it is definitely not one of the run-of-the-mill self help books. It is aimed directly at Therapists who are looking to incorporate mindfulness theory and practise into their own interaction with patients. As such it has two main angles – encouraging the therapist to practise ‘mindful presence’ while with a patient (or ‘client’), and also some techniques for teaching to patients when appropriate for them to use.

This idea of ‘mindful presence’ when talking to people is a real art. If you have some mindfulness, you will see yourself while talking with someone, wandering off  thinking on other topics, complaining in your own mind, mentally saying things you won’t verbalise for politeness sake, or enduring the other person’s part of the conversation for the reward of replying with your own ideas.

Mindful presence means you give up your own thinking and judging, and focus entirely on being present for the other person, and their difficulties. No wonder Therapists charge a lot of money!

If I wish to treat another individual psychologically at all, I must for better or worse give up all pretensions to superior knowledge, all authority and desire to influence – Carl Jung

As a meditator himself, Bien is in a good position to record these insights – although to anyone but a therapist, there are much more detailed books around on the topic of mindfulness.

It is interesting however, just how much mindfulness has infiltrated the psychological professions. In such situations mindfulness is stripped of its Buddhist origins… or at least stripped of all the surrounding teachings and rites and rituals, and taken as a good quality in and of itself. Some people call this ‘stealth Buddhism’. Yet a good quality is worthy in and of itself. We can all accept that forgiveness is a good quality, without calling it ‘stealth Christianity’.

Buddhism does in fact have a lot to offer psychology, and if its qualities are taken independent of the teaching on enlightenment, then so be it. What you have then is a bunch of psychologists who use therapeutic techniques that owe little more than a nod to their Buddhist origins.

Similarly, and far less talked about Buddhism has a lot to learn from psychology. Terms such as ‘ego’, ‘repression’, ‘unconscious’ or ‘subconscious’ enter daily into dhamma talks without much real understanding of the correct and original meanings in their psychological origins.

 In Short:

A suitable book for Therapists or pscyh. professionals who look to learn something about mindfulness from one of their peers …. but not much to offer to a meditator that can’t be found in many other more detailed books.