by Joe Loizzo
Joe Loizzo MD, PhD, is the founder and Academic Director of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. The following essay has been adapted from the forthcoming 2nd edition of Advances in Contemplative Psychotherapy to be published by Routledge in January 2023. To learn more about the Contemplative Psychotherapy Program visit our information page.
Contemplative psychotherapy is a hybrid therapeutic approach that blends the meditative insights, ethics and practices of Buddhism with the theory and application of Western neuropsychology, social psychology and psychotherapy. This amalgam may invoke cognitive dissonance for some. “Contemplation” and “contemplative” — terms derived from the Latin contemplatio — have historically been used to describe a discipline of individual and group reflection considered central to introspective learning, especially the meditative and ethical learning practiced by lay and professional people in traditional Western religious communities. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, has evolved as a healing discipline of introspective learning based mainly on a dyadic method of reflection, informed by scientific views of human nature, and practiced in confidential relationships by mental health professionals and their clients in modern clinical settings.