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One of my work roles is that of Course Leader for the MSc psychotherapy at the University of Brighton, a post I have been in for nearly two years now. Over the past few weeks its been mid-year assessment time, and whilst marking and moderating work can be tiring and requiring much concentration, it is one of the aspects of the teaching role that I really enjoy: its a chance to see how the students are taking in the theory and applying it to their clinical practice with clients.

The MSc students have recently completed a module on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: or more specifically, as our students are from Humanistic and Psychodynamic counselling backgrounds, how CBT might fit in a relational frame. This is an important module, not only because it helps our students understand the mechanics of CBT at a time when for many members of the public this is the mode of therapy with which they first make contact (CBT remains the GP’s first suggestion for conditions such as anxiety, depression and insomnia); but also because it is important for students to look at other modes of therapy to help them deepen an understanding of their own mode: a critical reflective stance of why therapy works.

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no self bedThis weekend I joined my fellow Shambhala Buddhists for our regular book club. Every 4 to 6 weeks, we take a book which has a Buddhist tone: its not always a Dharma book - as we often take more mainstream psychology books (as I have written about previously) or even novels. I enjoyed our latest selection, Robert Wright’s book “Why Buddhism is true”, as it blends the very latest in neuroscience and psychology, and relates these to descriptions of meditation found in the original Buddhist texts.

I became a practicing Buddhist during this “the mindfulness revolution”, so I have not known a time when meditation and its effects wasn’t being researched by scientists. Although I come from a background in the natural scientists, I haven’t needed the reports from peer-reviewed journals to tell me that meditation works (or as Wright says why Buddhism is “true”). What I have appreciated about Buddhism and its practices is its empiricism: I am not asked by the Buddhist texts to believe a theory or rely on logic, but rather to observe my experience directly. I do this on the cushion as I meditate, and I (try to!) to do this in everyday life and when I am in the therapy room with my clients.

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5 books


Continuing the ‘five things’ theme that I started last week, in this post I wanted to share five books that have touched me and changed my way of thinking. I wouldn’t say these are my ‘top five’ reads ever, but more ones that have triggered a way of thinking or have shifted my life in some way. For each book, I provide you with a link - so that you can find out a little more about the text and the author.