Introduction to the special issue on mindfulness, meditation and the person-centered approach

The Person-centered approach (PCA) is characterized by a fundamental ethical core but has over time been arguably co-opted by neoliberalism. The latter has a penchant for reducing any multifaceted methodology or clinical philosophy attending to the complexity of being human into yet another set of techniques aimed at measuring and computing what can neither be measured or computed.

In a similar way, the practice of Mindfulness as taught by the historical Buddha has been largely decontextualized in order to serve the needs of neoliberalism. The dominant view of Mindfulness is no longer one of several practices embedded in an elaborate and rich context with ethical, religious, mythical, and anthropological connotations, nor is it particularly rooted in how one lives. Instead it has become another set of techniques aimed at de-stressing before going back to the assembly line. In an attempt to create an open and hospitable dialogue, the following articles offered here are a variety of descriptions within the realm of Mindfulness and its therapeutic application and impact.

In his opening article, Terry Hyland offers a shrewd and well-argued critique of the ways in which current mindfulness programs may be bypassing the fundamental Buddhist principle of right livelihood.

Julie Webb offers a description of Person-centered therapy as a kind of artistry similar to that of Zen practice. Her paper discusses the ethics implicit in such a view of the human and reinforces the vitality and importance of the ethic necessarily embedded at the heart of the PCA that aids our becoming human.

Inviting the reader to take part and feeling Passionate about presence, Zoe Shobbrook-Fisher gives a detailed and poetic personal account of her own use of mainstream Mindfulness approaches, of her practice as a person-centered therapist, combined with some invitations to experience directly the benefits of mindful practice.

In his article A certain kind of mindful man David Brazier becomes curious about Carl Rogers as a person and paints a gentle portrait of a man whose way of being in the world feels implicitly attuned to the wisdom of the Dharma.

Joey Weber and Rachel Taylor (Can leopards change their spots?), present an investigation into how mindfulness can make use of natural plasticity within the brain, and present a study of how mindfulness can impact our thoughts and change brain function, that may in turn result in a change of behavior. Weber and Taylor detail how active engagement in a practice such as Mindfulness reminds us that we are free to take action and affect change, even when feeling plighted by an anxious sense of powerlessness in life.

Going refreshingly against the grain of secular interpretations of mindfulness, Asimina Lazaridou and Panagiotis Pentaris (Mindfulness and spirituality) investigate the often forgotten link between mindfulness and spirituality.

In asking the question Is suffering therapeutic? Cristalle Hayes considers how we might come to accept our suffering compassionately, and discusses the similarities and perhaps helpfulness, of ideas from Person-centered conditions necessary for acceptance and change, and a Buddhist understanding of what it is to suffer well. Aside from suffering, often clients arrive in therapy feeling that they are fixed or stuck somehow and experience hopelessness in what may seem like an immovable life position creating overwhelming anxiety.t

Finally, Manu Bazzano weaves old and new tales in order to reiterate the fundamental point that mindfulness is always in context, in this case mindfulness of impermanence, in turn a powerful aid in being more present to our day-to-day interaction with others and with clients in particular.

Mindfulness is no longer one thing, one approach or one understanding. It varies in its description, application and impact, and therefore will sometimes naturally be at variance with what some consider being at its heart: a way to live a life with others. Our hope is that the articles assembled here will inspire you and prompt further discussion.

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The artistry of therapy and Zen practice

At a time when to become a therapist we may be required to measure our empathy against some sort of growth chart, we may also be witnessing the emergence of a radical battle against such systemizing of subtle and natural human capacities. This discussion will offer a description of the process of becoming and the actualizing tendency, as trust and faith in the subtle and natural opening of the true dharma eye. Zen writings often engage with the challenge of our ability to notice what is right before our eyes and perhaps as therapists our task is to be open, receptive and awake to the intimacy of phenomena in order that we may aid a person, who for whatever reason, may have their eyes closed. Openness and receptivity may help nurture a creative feedback loop that is inherent in human relating but often unacknowledged explicitly in therapy, and everyday living. This explicit acknowledgement may also correspond with notions of non-conscious affect and affective resonance.

Die Kunst von Therapie und Zen

In einer Zeit, wo wir vielleicht unsere Empathie an irgendeiner Form von Wachstums- Messlatte überprüfen müssen, um eine therapeutische Fachperson zu werden, werden wir vielleicht auch Zeugen eines radikalen Kampfes gegen eine solche Systematisierung von subtilen und natürlich menschlichen Fähigkeiten. Diese Diskussion gibt eine Beschreibung des Prozesses des Werdens und der Aktualisierungstendenz als Vertrauen und Glauben im subtilen und natürlichen Öffnen des wahren Dharma Auges. Maezumi Roshi sagt, dass “etwas subtil ist, nicht etwa, weil es verborgen ist oder schwer fassbar, sondern weil es genau vor uns ist” (2002, S.4). Vielleicht ist es unsere Aufgabe als therapeutische Fachpersonen, offen, empfänglich und wach zu sein für die Intimität von Phänomenen, damit wir einer Person helfen können, die, aus welchem Grund auch immer, die Augen geschlossen hält. Offenheit und Empfänglichkeit können dazu beitragen, eine “kreative Feedback”-Schleife zu unterhalten (Loori, 2005), die dem menschlichen In-Beziehung-Sein inhärent ist, aber oft weder in der Therapie noch im Alltag explizit gewürdigt wird. Diese explizite Anerkennung korrespondiert vielleicht auch mit Gedanken “eines unbewussten Affekts und affektiver Resonanz” (Schore 2012).

El arte de la terapia y de Zen

En el momento en que para convertirnos en terapeutas podamos necesitar medir nuestra empatía contra algún tipo de tabla de crecimiento, también podremos estar presenciando el surgimiento de una lucha radical contra tal sistematización de capacidades humanas, sutiles y naturales. Esta discusión ofrece una descripción del proceso de convertirse en persona y la tendencia actualizante, como confianza y fe en la sutil y natural apertura del verdadero ojo dharma. Maezumi Roshi dice que “algo es sutil no porque es oculto y esquivo, sino porque ya está aquí” (2002, p.4) y tal vez como terapeutas nuestra tarea debe ser estar abiertos, receptivos y despiertos a la intimidad de los fenómenos a fin de que podamos ayudar a una persona que, por cualquier motivo, puede tener los ojos cerrados. Apertura y receptividad pueden ayudar a nutrir un circuito de “retroalimentación creativa” (Loori, 2005) que es inherente en relación humana, pero a menudo no reconocida explícitamente en la terapia y la vida de cada día. Este reconocimiento explícito puede también corresponderse con nociones de “afecto no consciente y resonancia afectiva” (Schore 2012).

La part artistique de la thérapie et du Zen

Lorsque nous devenons thérapeutes, il se pourrait que nous soyons supposés mesurer notre empathie à l’aune d’une sorte de charte de croissance. Il se pourrait aussi que nous soyons témoin d’un combat radical contre une telle ‘systémisation’ des capacités humaines subtiles et naturelles. Cette discussion veut proposer une description du processus du devenir (becoming) et de la tendance actualisante, en tant que confiance et foi dans l’ouverture naturelle de l’œil du juste Dharma. Maezumi Roshi affirme qu’« une chose est subtile non pas parce qu’elle est cachée ou insaisissable, mais parce qu’elle est simplement là. » (2002, p.4). En tant que thérapeutes, notre tâche est peut-être d’être ouverts, réceptifs et en éveil devant l’intime du phénomène, afin de pouvoir aider une personne qui garde ses yeux fermés, qu’elle qu’en soit la raison. L’ouverture et la réceptivité du thérapeute peut nourrir une boucle de « feedback créatif » (Loori, 2005) inhérente à la relation humaine mais qui souvent n’est pas reconnue explicitement en thérapie ou dans la vie quotidienne. Cette reconnaissance explicite peut aussi correspondre aux notions d’affect non conscient et de résonnance affective. (Schore 2012).

A arte da Terapia e do Zen

Numa época em que, para nos tornarmos terapeutas pode ser-nos pedido que comparemos o nosso nível de empatia com alguma espécie de tabela de desenvolvimento, podemos estar também a testemunhar a emergência de uma batalha radical contra uma tal sistematização das capacidades humanas subtis e naturais. Esta discussão fornecerá uma descrição do processo de tornar-se e da tendência atualizante, enquanto confiança e fé na abertura subtil e natural do verdadeiro olho dharma. Maezumi Roshi afirma que “uma coisa é subtil não porque se encontra escondida ou porque é elusiva, mas sim porque está aqui mesmo” (2002, pg 4) e talvez enquanto terapeutas a nossa tarefa seja estarmos abertos, recetivos e despertos para a intimidade dos fenómenos, de modo a conseguirmos ajudar uma pessoa que, por qlgum motivom possa ter os olhos fechados. A abertura e a recetividade podem ajudar a alimentar a espiral de «feedback criativo» (Loori, 2005), a qual é inerente aos relacionamentos humanos mas que também pode corresponder às noções de «afeto não consciente e ressonância afetiva» (Schore, 2012)

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Finding the right words: symbolizing experience in practice and theory


Much of therapy, particularly person-centered therapy, is devoted to finding words to accurately symbolize the experiences the client chooses to share. Accurately symbolizing clients’ problematic experiences allows them to be assimilated and transformed into personal resources.

Words are used to share experience. Word meanings grow by accumulating the experience of those who use the words. As a result, language incorporates a repertoire of personal and cultural experience, which therapists and clients use to articulate and transform problematic experiences.

Building a theory likewise requires finding the right words to accurately symbolize scientific and clinical observations. A theory grows by accumulating these observations. Thus, a good theory reproduces, in a compact form, an aggregate of the experience of those who have researched it.

Trouver les mots justes : symboliser l’expérience en pratique et en théorie.

Beaucoup de thérapies, et en particulier la thérapie centrée sur la personne, sont destinées à trouver des mots pour symboliser avec justesse les expériences que le client choisit de partager. La symbolisation fidèle des expériences problématiques amenées par les clients permet de les assimiler et de les transformer en ressources personnelles. Le mot est utilisé pour partager l’expérience. Les significations d’un mot s’enrichissent en accumulant les expériences de ceux qui utilisent ces mots. Il en résulte que le langage incorpore un répertoire d’expériences personnelles et culturelles que les thérapeutes et les clients emploient pour articuler et transformer des expériences problématiques. Construire une théorie requiert également de trouver les mots justes pour symboliser avec exactitude les observations cliniques et scientifiques. Une bonne théorie reproduit donc, sous forme compacte, un agrégat de l’expérience de ceux qui l’ont investiguée.

Die richtigen Worte finden: das Symbolisieren von Erfahrung in Praxis und Theorie

Vieles in der Therapie, besonders in der Personzentrierten Therapie, ist darauf angelegt, Worte zu finden, um die Erfahrungen genau zu symbolisieren, die die Klient-Person teilen möchte. Das genaue Symbolisieren von problematischen Erfahrungen der Klient-Person ermöglicht, dass diese Erfahrungen assimiliert und zu persönlichen Ressourcen transformiert werden. Worte werden dazu verwendet, um Erfahrung mitzuteilen, Wortbedeutungen wachsen, indem die Erfahrung von denen, die die Worte verwenden, gesammelt wird. In der Folge verkörpert Sprache ein Repertoire von persönlicher und kultureller Erfahrung, welches Therapeut- und Klient-Personen verwenden, um problematische Erfahrungen auszudrücken und zu transformieren.

Eine Theorie aufzustellen erfordert gleichermaßen, dass man die richtigen Worte findet, um wissenschaftliche und klinische Beobachtungen genau zu symbolisieren. Eine Theorie wächst, indem diese Beobachtungen gesammelt werden. Damit reproduziert eine gute Theorie in kompakter Form die Gesamtsumme der Erfahrung von jenen, die sie erforscht haben.

Encontrando las palabras correctas: simbolizar la experiencia en la práctica y la teoría

Gran parte de la terapia, particularmente la terapia centrada en la persona, se dedica a encontrar palabras para simbolizar con precisión las experiencias que el cliente elige compartir. Simbolizar con precisión las experiencias problemáticas de los clientes les permite asimilarlas y transformarlas en recursos personales.

Las palabras se utilizan para compartir la experiencia. Los significados de las palabras crecen al ir acumulando la experiencia de quienes las usan. Como resultado, el lenguaje incorpora un repertorio de experiencias personales y culturales, que los terapeutas y los clientes usan para articular y transformar experiencias problemáticas.

Construir una teoría también requiere encontrar las palabras correctas para simbolizar con precisión las observaciones científicas y clínicas. Una teoría crece al ir acumulando estas observaciones. De esta manera, una buena teoría reproduce, en forma compacta, un agregado de la experiencia de quienes la han investigado.

Encontrar as palavras certas: a simbolização da experiência, na prática e na teoria

Grande parte da terapia, em particular da terapia centrada na pessoa, dedica-se a encontrar as palavras que simbolizam, de forma precisa, as experiências que o cliente opta por partilhar. A simbolização precisa das experiências problemáticas dos clientes permite que estas sejam assimiladas e convertidas em recursos pessoais. As palavras são usadas para partilhar experiência. Os significados das palavras ampliam-se pela acumulação da experiência daqueles que usam essas palavras. Consequentemente, a linguagem incorpora um reportório de experiências pessoais e culturais, que terapeutas e clientes usam para articular e transformar as experiências problemáticas.

Da mesma maneira, a construção de uma teoria requer encontrar as palavras certas para simbolizar com precisão as observações científicas e clínicas. Uma teoria cresce através da acumulação dessas observações. Assim sendo, uma boa teoria reproduz, de maneira compacta, um agregado da experiência daqueles que a pesquisaram.

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Emotionally focused individual therapy: An attachment-based experiential/systemic perspective - Lorrie Brubacher


Attachment theory as a theory of adult love and emotion regulation can provide a humanistic paradigm for therapeutic change that is relevant to a broad range of presenting problems. I advocate emotionally focused individual therapy, an attachment-based experiential/systemic integration that targets concerns common across various models of individual psychotherapy: creating secure attachment, resolving negative interpersonal and intrapsychic interactive patterns, and developing effective emotion regulation strategies. I suggest that attachment theory sets the stage from which to consider individual therapy as a process of love (developing secure connections) between therapist and client, between client and past and present relationships, and within the client’s internal processes. I present principles of attachment, discuss how these principles can fruitfully shape the therapeutic relationship, define the destination for change, offer guidance for working with emotion and shape interventions and change processes. The change processes which I present and illustrate with a case example are as follows: (1) identifying patterns of emotion regulation and deepening the underlying emotion and (2) creating corrective emotional experiences that can transform these patterns into secure bonds interpersonally and intrapsychically.

La thérapie individuelle centrée sur les émotions: une perspective expérientielle/systémique basée sur l’attachement.

En tant que théorie de la régulation des émotions et de l’amour chez l’adulte, la théorie de l’attachement s’avère être un paradigme pertinent pour le changement thérapeutique dans un grand éventail de problèmes rencontrés. Je préconise une approche intégrée expérientielle /systémique de l’attachement qui cible les préoccupations communes à des modèles variés de psychothérapie individuelle: création d’un attachement sécure, résolution de schémas négatifs d’interaction interpersonnelle et psychique et développement de stratégies de régulation émotionnelle efficaces. Je suggère que la théorie de l’attachement permet d’ouvrir des voies au départ desquelles on peut considérer la thérapie individuelle comme un processus d’amour (développer des liens sécures) entre le thérapeute et le client, entre le client et ses relations passées ou présentes, et au cœur même des processus internes du client. Je présente les principes de l’attachement et je discute la façon par laquelle ces principes peuvent configurer de façon féconde la relation thérapeutique, définir la direction du changement, procurer des conseils pour le travail avec l’émotion et façonner les interventions et le processus de changement. Les processus de changement que je présente et que j’illustre avec un exemple de cas sont les suivants: 1) identification de schémas de régulation des émotions et intensification des émotions sous-jacentes et 2) création d’expériences émotionnelles correctrices qui peuvent transformer ces schémas en liens interpersonnels et intrapsychiques sécures.

Emotionsfokussierte Einzeltherapie: Eine bindungsbasierte Experienzielle/Systemische Perspektive

Bindungs-Theorie als eine Theorie über erwachsene Liebe und Emotionsregulation kann ein humanistisches Paradigma für therapeutische Veränderung zur Verfügung stellen, welches für eine große Bandbreite von sich präsentierenden Problemen relevant ist. Ich vertrete eine bindungsbasierte experienzielle/systemische Integration, die auf Anliegen abzielt, die über verschiedene Modelle von Einzeltherapie hinweg gemeinsam sind: eine sichere Bindung zu schaffen, negative interpersonelle und intrapsychische interaktive Muster aufzulösen und wirksame Emotionsregulationsstrategien zu entwickeln. Ich schlage vor, dass die Bindungstheorie die Ebene zur Verfügung stellt, auf der Einzeltherapie wie folgt betrachtet werden kann: als ein Prozess der Liebe (das Entwickeln sicherer Bindung) zwischen Therapeut- und Klient-Person, zwischen der Klient-Person und vergangenen und gegenwärtigen Beziehungen sowie innerhalb der inneren Prozesse der Klient-Person. Ich stelle Prinzipien von Bindung vor und diskutiere, wie diese Prinzipien die therapeutische Beziehung fruchtbar gestalten können, definiere die Ausrichtung von Veränderung, biete Richtlinien an, mit Emotion zu arbeiten und wie man Interventionen und Veränderungsprozesse gestaltet. Die Veränderungsprozesse, die ich vorstelle und mit einem Fallbeispiel illustriere, sind: 1. Muster der Emotion-Regulation zu identifizieren und die darunter liegende Emotion zu vertiefen und 2. korrigierende emotionale Erfahrungen zu schaffen, welche diese Muster zu sicheren interpersonellen und intrapsychischen Bindungen verändern kann.

Terapia individual enfocada en la emoción: una perspectiva basada en el apego, experiencial/sistémica

La teoría del apego como una teoría del amor adulto, y la regulación de la emoción, puede proporcionar un paradigma humano para el cambio terapéutico que es relevante a una amplia gama de presentación de problemas. Abogo por una integración experiencial sistémica basada en el apego que apunta a preocupaciones comunes a través de varios modelos de psicoterapia individual: creando un apego seguro, resolución de patrones negativos interpersonales y patrones intrapsíquicos interactivos y el desarrollo de estrategias eficaces de regulación de la emoción. Sugiero que la teoría del apego sienta las bases para considerar la terapia individual como un proceso de amor (desarrollo de conexiones seguras) entre el terapeuta y consultante, entre el consultante y su sus relaciones pasadas y presentes dentro de los procesos internos del consultante. Presento principios de apego y discuto cómo estos principios pueden ser fructíferos para dar forma a la relación terapéutica, definir el destino para el cambio, ofrecer orientación para trabajar con la emoción y dar forma a las intervenciones y procesos de cambio. Los procesos de cambio que presento e ilustro con un ejemplo de un caso son: 1) identificar los patrones de regulación de la emoción y profundizar la emoción subyacente y 2) crear experiencias emocionales correctivas que puedan transformar esos patrones en lazos seguros interpersonales e intra psíquicos.

Terapia individual focada na emoção: uma perspetiva experiencial e sistémica baseada na vinculação

A teoria da vinculação enquanto teoria do amor adulto e da regulação das emoções pode fornecer um paradigma humanista para a mudança terapêutica, relevante para um leque diversificado de problemas que surgem. Eu defendo a integração de uma abordagem experiencial baseada na vinculação, sistémica que se dirige a preocupações comuns a vários modelos de psicoterapia individual: criar um vínculo seguro, resolver padrões de interação negativos interpessoais e intrapsíquicos e desenvolver estratégias eficazes de regulação das emoções. Sugiro que a teoria da vinculação dá origem ao contexto no qual se pode considerar a terapia individual como um processo de amor (desenvolvimento de ligações seguras) – entre o terapeuta e o cliente, entre o cliente e as suas relações do passado e do presente e no interior dos processos internos do cliente. Apresento princípios da vinculação e discuto como esses mesmos princípios podem moldar- de forma frutífera- a relação terapêutica, definir o ponto de chegada da mudança e fornecer orientação para o trabalho com as emoções e a moldagem das intervenções e dos processos de mudança. Os processos de mudança que eu apresento e ilustro, através de um caso exemplificativo, são: 1- identificação de padrões de regulação de emoções e aprofundamento das emoções subjacentes e 2- criação de experiências emocionais corretivas, que podem transformar esses padrões em laços seguros – nos domínios interpessoal e intrapsíquico.

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Call for proposals to host WAPCEPC 2020 Conference – DEADLINE EXTENDED to 31st May 2016

The WAPCEPC board invites organizational members and/or national groups of members to prepare proposals to host the PCE Conference due to be held in 2020 in your country.

The guidelines for hosting a PCE Conference, including the procedure for establishing a venue for the PCE conference, are available on our website at http://www.pce-world.org/news-and-events/pce-conferences.html. Members who are interested in convening the conference in 2020 are invited to indicate their interest by sending a proposal to the WAPCEPC board (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by 31st May 2016.

In their proposal to host PCE 2020, members should present their team, their competences in scientific, administrative and financial matters, and their plans concerning the location of the conference. We ask that you address the main issues contained in the conference guidelines within the proposal. Please contact Tricia McCann, Chair of the Board, (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you have any questions about the requirements outlined within the PCE conference guidelines.

Following the deadline for proposals, the board will review all proposals that have been received and may ask proposing groups to address any perceived gaps identified within their proposals.

The board will inform members about the proposals by publishing them in the WAPCEPC newsletter and website prior to the General Assembly due to be held in New York, United States of America, July, 2015.

All groups proposing to host PCE 2020 will present their proposals to WAPCEPC members at the General Assembly in New York, 2016. Voting on proposals will take place in the General Assembly, where members can vote in person or by proxy.

Alternatively, if agreed by the General Assembly, all members will be invited to vote on the proposals electronically at a date arranged at the earliest opportunity following the General Assembly.


Tricia McCann on behalf of
The Board of WAPCEPC

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