An indicator of the growth of research in the field of psychology and spirituality can be seen by examining the increase in the number of citations found over the past several decades in the PsycINFO database, which is the premier resource of the American Psychological Association (APA) that provides abstracts of peer-reviewed literature in the behavioral sciences and mental health. In addition to the field of psychology, data on the relevance of religion and spirituality is being generated by disciplines in the humanities and the physical and other social sciences to which spiritually oriented psychologists and other mental health therapists need to pay attention. One area that blends the psychological and the spiritual and offers an opportunity for collaboration between psychology and pastoral counseling is that of mindfulness-based therapies. The challenges for the world’s religions and spiritual traditions are the challenges for psychology and its allied professions, including pastoral counseling.
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- Go to chapter: Perspectives from Beyond the Field: Psychology and Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy
This chapter focuses on Buddhist approaches to the work of pastoral counseling and the role of the counselor. It explores the topics of Buddhism and pastoral counseling as separate entities, looks at how they can be joined, and presents unique elements of working with Buddhist and non-Buddhist clients. The chapter introduces the notion of the Buddhist pastoral counselor as the kalamitra, or spiritual friend. In Mahayana Buddhism, the teacher is often termed kalamitra, Sanskrit for spiritual friend. The kalamitra as counselor is one who has worked with his or her own mind and therefore knows the workings of the mind and how the mind creates suffering. Similar to all counseling, the Buddhist pastoral counselor will rely on the relationship with the client as the main process and intervention of counseling. Buddhism and mindfulness will continue to influence psychology, and therefore Buddhist pastoral counseling as a discipline will continue to grow.