There are the conventional roles of 'Therapist' & 'Patient/Client'. They are transitional roles to facilitate the deepening of wisdom and compassion.
We can understand patient in the sense of patience and the root of the word from old French pacient and directly from Latin patientem "bearing, supporting, suffering, enduring, permitting".
The therapists role is to walk alongside the clients experience as closely as they can, helping the client to stay with and not take flight from difficult feelings, offer alternative perspectives and encourage them in their path of self knowledge.
Ultimately both therapist and client are both the 'patient'.
The ‘patient’ is learning to bear and witness unpleasant feelings, annoyance, depression, provocation, loss, pain etc, with attentive, patient, endurance. In this witnessing we begin to deeply understand the nature of the mind and loosen our attachment to it's changing states.
The ‘patient’ also practising an attitude of perseverance, ethical conduct, and equanimity. The therapist and patient stay with both pleasant and unpleasant feelings, not seeking distraction with the methodology of compassionate curiosity.
As students of awakening we are all ‘patients’ if we understand the word in this way. In the therapeutic relationship one person holds the role of psychotherapist and the other as patient as a tool for understanding.
There is the observer and the observed that is held by both therapist and patient.
Contemplative Psychotherapy combines Buddhist theory & practise with the traditional Western culture of clinical psychotherapy. An emphasis on developing clarity of mind and compassion plays a huge role in the therapy.
Contemplative Psychotherapy arose out of a dialogue between the Tibetan Buddhist Master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Western psychoanalysts, psychologists and psychiatrists.
The Contemplative Psychotherapy is like a mentor encouraging independence and confidence in whatever manifests in their life. With mindfulness it teaches people to meet difficulties head on and be less fearful about them.
The goal is not to eliminate difficult thoughts, moods and feelings, the practice is to get closer to them and start to understand their nature. With sincere practise the patient begins to experience a sense of trust and a deeper sense of wellbeing.
It is based on the understanding there is nothing essentially wrong with the us, we loose our way. We are as nature intended.
In beginning to understand our 'good enoughness' there is the development of confidence. It takes a certain confidence, humility and courage to witness pain as it is without deflection and blame. It takes confidence to see the source of pain and give up self destructive addictions both small and large.
As we see and relinquish addictive ways of thinking, speaking and acting there is a deepening ability to live in authenticity, self acceptance and a trust in the flow of our lives.
Although Contemplative Psychotherapy does have Buddhist origins, it is open to patients of any religion or belief and the therapist no wish to make people ‘Buddhist’. The Buddha was not a 'Buddhist', all he offered was a way to see our suffering, understand its nature and free ourselves.
Brilliant Sanity means that within us we carry an inherent wisdom and dignity. Our basic nature is one of openness, clarity and compassion. This inherent sanity may be hidden by a lifetime of conditioning and once the patients begins to see the spark of this brilliant sanity it can be nurtured and grown. Contemplative Psychotherapists are trained to recognise sanity even within the most confused and distorted states of mind. It is ultimately up to us to develop it.
Psychotherapy emphasises the primacy of witnessing immediate experience. The therapist is trained in both theory and in experiential process. The psychotherapist will have spent many years observing and experiencing their own mind through meditation and in being in therapy themselves. When working with patients this is the base of empathic attunement.
In contemplative psychotherapy attention is paid to observing body-speech-mind. There is the observation of cause and affect. We see how we create the experience of our world through speech, action and thought. What we say, act and think brings forth consequence both for good and for ill.
We integrate times of solitude and times of community. We integrate friendliness towards others and ourselves. We reside in relaxation, fearlessness and humour.