Have a Question?
Ask the Graduate
College at our new
Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Michael Harris
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Counseling Education and Counseling Psychology
Title: A Qualitative Study of Psychotherapists Whose Work is Informed by Buddhist Psychological Perspectives
Dr. Alan Hovestadt, Chair
Dr. Gary Bischof
Dr. Thomas Holmes
Date: Monday, May 19, 2008 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
3210 Sangren Hall
The field of psychology has a history of distancing itself, if not outright dismissing, both religion and spirituality. In recent years, however, psychology has come to move toward an embrace of religious and spiritual experience. Buddhism, often expressed as a philosophical system without regard to theistic or non-theistic underpinnings, has been integrated with psychological theory in recent scholarly literature. This dissertation is a foundational study regarding the way in which Buddhist psychological perspectives manifest in actual psychotherapeutic practice. A participant pool of ten psychotherapists, self-identified as utilizing Buddhism in their work, was studied along a variety of dimensions. Demographic questionnaires, audiotaped semi-structured interviews, hypothetical case study evaluations, contact summaries, printed material regularly provided to clients, professional websites, and photographs of psychotherapy offices were all analyzed using qualitative, phenomenological research methodology. Practice implications regarding understandings of impermanence, self, and suffering were explored. Specific clinical interventions and the ethical dimensions to such applications of Buddhist thought were examined. Implications of the findings in this study are offered. Recommendations regarding disclosure, relational dynamics, and dual relationships are also made.