I’ve been intrigued with the blending of Buddhist thought and western psychology since reading The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler. Brilliant Sanity is a collection of essays addressing the field of contemplative psychotherapy written by a wide range of therapeutic practitioners, and is one of the more interesting and approachable “textbooks” of its type. Contemplative Psychotherapy (CP) is an emerging field of study and a (relatively) new method of working with patients involved in various therapeutic settings. The title, Brilliant Sanity, refers to a term coined by Chogyam Trungpa to refer to our innermost nature of being compassionate and caring beings, and it is the mission of the contemplative psychotherapist to return his or her patient to that state of existence. This form of therapy is likely to be somewhat challenging for someone trained in typical Western approaches, where the concept of “original sin” tends to predominate, even if the therapist does not subscribe to stereotypical Judeo-Christian-Islamic beliefs. While CP training cautions against mixing therapy and spirituality, the essays in this book do point out that certain concepts and practices in Buddhism (especially meditation) can be applied to a therapeutic situation. Each informative, insightful, and thought-provoking essay encourages therapists to know and understand themselves as a key component to their contemplative therapeutic practice. This is a book definitely recommended for therapists who are interested in challenging themselves and their way of looking at their patients, and for those willing to reframe their approach to working with others. From University of the Rockies Press and available at your local, independent bookstore. (Tell ’em you saw it on Elephant Journal!)
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