SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Watson, Gay (1996) A Buddhist inspiration for a contemporary psychotherapy. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (15MB)


It is almost exactly one hundred years since the popular and not merely academic dissemination of Buddhism in the West began. During this time a dialogue has grown up between Buddhism and the Western discipline of psychotherapy. It is the contention of this work that Buddhist philosophy and praxis have much to offer a contemporary psychotherapy. Firstly, in general, for its long history of the experiential exploration of mind and for the practices of cultivation based thereon, and secondly, more specifically, for the relevance and resonance of specific Buddhist doctrines to contemporary problematics. Thus, this work attempts, on the basis of a three-way conversation between Buddhism, psychotherapy and various themes from contemporary discourse, to suggest a psychotherapy that may be helpful and relevant to the current horizons of thought and contemporary psychopathologies which are substantially different from those prevalent at the time of psychotherapy's early years. It is set out according to the traditional Tibetan Buddhist plan of Ground, Path and Fruition. "Ground" presents first a brief consideration of Western psychotherapies, followed by an introduction to Buddhist views with particular reference to those doctrines considered of most relevance to psychotherapy. This is followed by consideration of ideas of the subject or self in Buddhism and in contemporary discourse. "Path" reviews the two major branches of the Buddhist way, ethics and meditation, in the context of psychotherapy. "Fruition" compares and contrasts the goals of Buddhism and psychotherapy, suggesting that they may be similar in quality, the quality being that of liberation, but different in the quantity or extent of the liberation desired. Subsequently this section explores the implications of the Buddhist view in the light of contemporary discourse, and in the context of experience. Again according to a traditional pattern this is presented in terms of the dimensions of Body, Speech and Mind. Finally in the light of the foregoing some suggestions are made as to the possible general features of a contemporary Buddhist inspired psychotherapy. An appendix describes the individual details of two existing Buddhist based trainings for psychotherapists.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:15

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item