The quality of presence a psychotherapist or counselor brings to the therapeutic relationship makes all the difference in effective treatment. With this groundbreaking new application of Buddhist practice to psychotherapy, Karen Kissel Wegela offers mental heath professionals a Buddhist’s perspective on bringing compassion, patience, generosity, and equanimity to their work with clients. She presents as a model the Buddhist ideal of the bodhisattva, the archetypal being whose life is radically dedicated to seeking the benefit and welfare of others over his or her own.
Drawing on her background in Buddhist practice and her years of teaching at the university level and of working with clients in private practice, Wegela begins with the basic Buddhist understanding of how suffering arises and ceases, and then continues with teachings on how to discover and cultivate the bodhisattva’s awakened heart. She uses stories from her own practice as well as teachings from the Buddhist tradition to describe how to discover and cultivate the six traditional “awakened actions”: generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and wisdom.
The Courage to Be Present offers an effective method for cultivating the wisdom of compassion and equanimity in all relationships—both personal and professional. Wegela shows not only how counselors can apply this wisdom in their own lives, but also how they can help their clients to cultivate these qualities in themselves.
“Wegela approaches her respect of Buddhism and therapeutic practices non-judgmentally, taking care not to slip into stereotype by admirably capturing the depth and complexity of the subject matter. To readers’ great benefit the author combines her vast knowledge and experience to this exceptional journey of the integration of Buddhism and psychotherapy. Therapists or not, readers are well-served by its message.”—Daily Camera
“Karen Wegela brings a real understanding of the intricacies of Buddhist thought to bear on the challenge of psychotherapy. There is much wisdom here.”—Mark Epstein, MD, author of Thoughts without a Thinker and Going to Pieces without Falling Apart
"Karen Wegela has found ways, carefully and compassionately, to build our confidence as we face life's challenges. She shows us how to be present in any predicament without the storylines drawn by ego to limit and scare us. Both as a therapist and as a client, I have found a wealth of skillful means in this book."—David Richo, PhD, author of The Five Things We Cannot Change
"This book will be valuable reading both for psychotherapists in training with an interest in Buddhism, and for experienced therapists who want to deepen their understanding of how Buddhist thought and practice can enhance psychotherapeutic work."—Ronald D. Siegel, PsyD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School, and coeditor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy
"Karen Kissel Wegela brings her long experience as a meditator, therapist, and teacher to this fine exploration of the integration of Buddhism and psychotherapy. Seemingly effortlessly, she translates profound and ancient teachings into lucid contemporary practice in a manner that is clearly stated, always grounded in embodied experience, and enhanced with heart and humor."—Gay Watson, PhD, author of Beyond Happiness and The Resonance of Emptiness