Translation of Eastern Meditative Disciplines Into Western Psychotherapy

Randye J. Semple and Sean P. Hatt

in The Oxford Handbook of Psychology and Spirituality

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199729920
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Translation of Eastern Meditative Disciplines Into Western Psychotherapy

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  • Cognitive Psychology



This chapter describes the history and influence of Buddhist meditative disciplines on Western psychotherapy. Beginning with an overview of Buddhist traditions, a brief discussion of some of the foundational tenets of Buddhist psychology is offered. An overview of the dialog between Buddhism and psychotherapy from the early 1900s to the present is traced. The shift from meditation as a spiritual discipline to mindfulness as a secular practice is explored. Four of the most widely studied and practiced mindfulness-oriented psychotherapies are described: mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). The chapter ends with an invitation to consider the reciprocal influence of meditation as a spiritual discipline and as a secular practice. What benefits might be realized by reevaluating the therapeutic secularization of these ancient and profound spiritual practices? We consider the desirability, form, and likelihood of a possible reintegration.

Keywords: Buddhism; meditation; mindfulness; psychology; psychotherapy; spirituality; transpersonal

Article.  12347 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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