Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Alan J. Hovestadt

Second Advisor

Dr. Gary Bischof

Third Advisor

Dr. Thomas Holmes


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 more toward an embrace of religious and spiritual experience. Buddhism, often expressed as a philosophical system without regard to theistic or nontheistic underpinnings, has been integrated with psychological theory in recent scholarly literature. This dissertation is an exploratory study regarding howBuddhist psychological perspectives are applied in actual psychotherapeutic practice. A participant pool of ten psychotherapists who 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 are all analyzed using qualitative, phenomenological research methodology. Practice implications regarding understandings of impermanence, self, and suffering are explored. Specific clinical interventions and the ethical dimensions to such applications of Buddhist thought are examined. Practice implications of the findings in this study are offered. Disclosure of Buddhist orientation and practices is highly recommended as the psychotherapeutic setting and population allow. Mindful utilization of compassionate presence is recommended. A strict avoidance of proselytizing is described as necessary in utilizing Buddhistperspectives in psychotherapy. Management of dual relationships is also understood as required in settings where therapist and client may interact in non-psychotherapeutic settings.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access