Contemplative Psychotherapy Program NYC Fall 2020

Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science

Contemplative Psychotherapy Program:
Compassion Year in New York City

Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program integrates mindfulness and compassion-based meditation practices and Buddhist psychology with contemporary psychotherapy and neuropsychology. The program spans 2 years — one devoted to Compassion and the other to Mindfulness. Students may start in either year. This fall marks the beginning of the Compassion Year in New York City.

Our faculty is comprised of leading Buddhist scholars, practitioners, world-class meditation teachers, pioneering researchers, and renowned clinicians. The program is led by Drs. Joe Loizzo, and Pilar Jennings. For the Compassion year, our esteemed meditation expert is Robert Thurman. Guest faculty include Lobsang Rapgay, Lama Rod Owens, Diana Fosha, Stephen Porges, Ethan Nichtern, Scott Tusa, and others.

Join us starting this September!

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Who is This Training For?

Social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, physicians, creative arts therapists, business coaches, educators, graduate students, and other professionals in the helping professions are encouraged to apply.

The Program

The curriculum is taught over two years. One year is dedicated to Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy and the other to Compassion-based Psychotherapy. Participants may enter the program in either year. This fall marks the start of the Compassion Year in New York.


A comprehensive foundation for integrating the social psychology and meditation practices of the Nalanda tradition into contemporary transpersonal and self-psychology, narrative, somatic, and gestalt therapies. Areas of study and practice include:

  • transforming the mind for social engagement
  • self-analysis and self-compassion
  • giving-and-taking
  • role-modeling imagery and embodied openness for self-transformation
  • visualization and breath work
  • embodied awareness practice
  • meditation practicum: instruction and supervision with Robert Thurman and core faculty


The year begins with an opening retreat from September 11, 12 and 13, with Joe Loizzo, Pilar Jennings and core faculty. There is also  an intercession retreat mid-January.

The rest of the year is comprised of 30 weekly classes on Thursday evenings from 6–8:30pm. Evening classes generally begin with guided meditation and group discussion, leading into the weekly lecture/discussion presented by our core faculty and guest lecturers (guests include Lobsang Rapgay, Lama Rod Owens, Diana Fosha, Stephan Porges, Ethan Nichtern, Scott Tusa, and others).

This year we expect our retreats and classes to be held not in-person as usual but live online, as we anticipate that social distancing will still be needed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Students work on a capstone project throughout the year, as well as teach-backs in which participants gain vital experience offering teachings and guiding meditation for peers. A celebration marks the end of the year when students present their projects — we hope that our traditional graduation dinner at Tibet House will be possible by then.

In addition, we offer monthly Supervision meetings, as well as a weekly, student led practice field designed to discuss the integration and application of meditation in one’s daily life. Alumni are also invited to participate in the practice field, as well as the intercession retreat, graduate panels and selected guest lectures, to help sustain ongoing learning and community.


Read the Frequently Asked Questions about our Fall 2020 offering in New York City.


Tuition is $4,000 for each year — 9 months of live weekly online retreats, classes, supervision, rigorous curriculum, projects, and possible limited in-person participation (pending any prudent COVID-19 social distancing protocols that may be in place). The deadline for application is August 15, 2020.

Additional Information

View our website for general information about the program. Read the FAQ. Or contact CPP Director, Helen Park.

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What People are Saying

Attending the Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program has been a rich and rewarding experience. Not only did I deepen and concretize my understanding of Buddhist thought as it applies to clinical work, but I also made lasting friendships with other like-minded clinicians. The sense of community they provide feels like a warm embrace.

—Debra Rosenzweig, PhD, Clinical Psychologist

And from one of our distance learning students:

I can’t find words to explain how important this journey has been for me. My spiritual and professional growth has been like a flower growing slowly and steadfastly toward the sun. My experience with the people I work with has completely changed. Now I’m able to receive their struggles like a gift and together we can embark on our specific and enthusiastic path toward the awareness of interdependence.

—Giulia Mellacca, Psychologist

Meet Our Core Faculty

Joe Loizzo

Joe Loizzo, MD, PhD is a Harvard-trained contemplative psychotherapist, Buddhist scholar, and author with over four decades experience integrating Indo-Tibetan mind science and healing arts into modern neuropsychology, psychotherapy, and clinical research. He is founder and director of the Nalanda Institute, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and a clinician in private practice in Manhattan. Joe is the author of numerous scholarly review articles on contemplative neuropsychiatry and psychotherapy. He is the author of the comprehensive textbook, Sustainable Happiness: The Mind Science Of Well-Being, Altruism, and Inspiration. He is executive editor of Advances in Contemplative Psychotherapy: Accelerating Healing and Transformation, a groundbreaking collection of essays by pioneers of the fast-emerging and highly promising new field of contemplative psychotherapy.

Helen Park

Helen Park, LMSW, MFA, is a clinical social worker specializing in integrative and holistic therapeutic approaches for children, couples, and families. She received her MSW from New York University and MFA from University of California Santa Cruz. Park also completed Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program and is currently its director. She serves as faculty for Nalanda Institute’s Mindful Families & Schools Program, as well as spearheading the Radical Compassion Project with co-director Geri Loizzo. Park also works with the Ackerman Institute for the Family as an Intake Coordinator, an Extern in the postgraduate training program, and an Extern Associate for Ackerman’s Foster Care and Adoption Project. She also provides mentoring for couples and families in mindfulness meditation as a relational practice.

pilar jennings

Pilar Jennings, PhD, is a psychoanalyst focused on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation who has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004. She was awarded her PhD in Psychiatry and Religion from Union Theological Seminary, a Masters in medical anthropology from Columbia University, and a Bachelors in interdisciplinary writing from Barnard College of Columbia University. Dr. Jennings is the author of Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism and To Heal a Wounded Heart: The Transformative Power of Buddhism and Psychotherapy in Action. Currently, she is a researcher at the Columbia University Center for Study of Science and Religion and Co-chair of the Columbia Faculty Seminar on the Memory and Savery, where she explores the intergenerational transmission of trauma.

Robert Thurman

Robert Thurman, PhD, is a recognized worldwide authority on religion and spirituality, Asian history, world philosophy, Buddhist science, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., Spiritual Director of Menla, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies. Dr. Thurman received his PhD from Harvard and has studied extensively with many top Tibetan Lamas including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Dr. Thurman is the author of many books, including The Central Philosophy of Tibet, The Jewel Tree of Tibet, and, most recently, with William Meyers and Michael Burbank, Man of Peace: The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

Geri Loizzo

Geri Loizzo is Nalanda Institute’s Director of Programming and Director of the Mindful Families & Schools Program. She is also a meditation faculty member and has served on the Institute’s board of directors since 2007. She’s had a regular practice of Hatha Yoga since 1982 and since 2006 has studied with Nalanda Institute Yoga Faculty, Mary Reilly Nichols. In addition, Loizzo has been studying and practicing Tibetan meditation since 1999, and has been leading weekly morning meditations at the Institute since 2011. Her mentors include Khyabje Gelek Rimpoche, Venerable Robina Courtin, and Kathleen McDonald.

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