1807 Second Street
Santa Fe Second Street Studios,
Contemplative psychotherapy. A very substantive sounding term, don't you think? The blending of Western psychotherapy with Buddhist awareness practices. So, does this mean that one has to be a card carrying Buddhist in order to benefit from, or even participate in this sort of therapy? You might think so, but I'll say "Of course not". What then? Well, one simply needs to be willing to incorporate a certain kind of self awareness into the process of one's therapy (hardly inconsistent with Non-Contemplative therapies, by the way), and to begin to think about and relate with one's experience in what might be a new way. "What new way?", you ask. A way that encourages, supports, integrates and actively cultivates a more dispassionate, dis-identified, curious, kind and accepting relationship with that experience, whatever it might be.
So this is a little different from certain more conventional types of Western psychotherapy, in that two first principles are 1)self awareness - "bare attention" this is sometimes called, in that one doesn't "do" anything with this awareness. One simply "has" it, curiously and "objectively", like a scientist studying a specimen under a microscope, making notes of her observations, but drawing no conclusions; and 2) acceptance. This is different from other kinds of therapy which take as a first principle the idea that something has to change, and preferably quickly. Contemplative therapy is also about change, however it assumes that change can be more effectively facilitated from the starting point of acceptance and a compassionate relationship with oneself, rather than from judgement, rejection, impatience or hostility toward oneself. It also assumes that change will occur organically, driven by an innate health, given the proper "view", perspective, guidance and support.
All therapy, and contemplative therapy no less than others, asks for a certain courage, or "fearlessness". This is not, ironically, an absence of fear, but rather, as Pema Chodron has put it, a "not turning away from" one's own direct experience; a willingness to explore and to be intertested in what comes up; to encounter things one likes as well as things one does not like about oneself, and to learn to understand, and even appreciate them both, while engaging in what Marsha Linehan calls the paradox of radical acceptance and the necessity to change.
Please give me a call if this approach might be appealing to you, or if you'd just like to talk more about it. I've been a therapist in Santa Fe for the past 16 years, and a practitioner of both contemplative and devotional methods for a whole lot longer than that. Additional information is available on my website, including fees and office hours. I look forward to meeting and working with you.
LPCC # 0093151