Weaving the paths of buddhism and psychotherapy: the practice of human being


My first book, published by Routledge, is available Summer 2023…

Weaving the Paths of Buddhism and Psychotherapy is an empathic guide to integrating Eastern and Western wisdom traditions that share the common goal of easing distress. Following the so-called ‘mindfulness revolution’ there has been a surge in interest as to how Buddhism’s overarching view on suffering may enhance therapeutic practice. This book is not just a clinical text; it is a first-person account of one Buddhist therapist educator’s lived experience of bringing Buddhism into the very personal and relational experience of psychotherapy. Western-trained therapists will recognize key concepts: the existential underpinnings of distress, driver behaviour and scripts, modifications to contact such as projection and introjection, relational conditions for healing, ethical considerations, and working with complex presentations and trauma, among others. Through autobiographical vignettes and case-study material, the book offers an invitation to all therapists to consider their own practice of human being.

Available from Amazon


“The Practice of Human Being offers gentle guidance and wisdom to help the reader deepen into their own experience while broadening their understanding of what constitutes a human life. The clarity of the writing will appeal to students of therapy as well as seasoned practitioners wanting to integrate the personal, spiritual, and psychological into life as a practitioner. Helen Carter has contributed a text grounded in both ancient wisdom and contemporary theory but always balanced by humility and humanity. This book is a breath of fresh air.”

Greg Madison, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Theory and Practice of Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy and The End of Belonging

“Helen Carter surveys Buddhist wisdom in light of the deepest psychotherapeutic values. I don’t think a book like this has ever been written before. Though her training in both systems is really quite rigorous, what makes this work so special is how personal and immediate it is. Weaving the Paths of Buddhism and Psychotherapy is not a treatise on liberation, it is an invitation to discover it for yourself.”

Susan PiverNew York Times bestselling author of The Four Noble Truths of Love and The Buddhist Enneagram

“In The Practice of Being Human, Helen Carter weaves together a very readable blend of biographical experience within an extensive investigation of the relationship between Buddhism and Western counselling and psychotherapy. This book explores in some depth key elements of Buddhist psychology and how they can inform and deepen our understanding and practice of psychotherapy. It is an invaluable resource for anyone embarking upon the journey of bridging these approaches to personal transformation.”

Rob Preeceauthor of The Wisdom of Imperfection and The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • About me: How I came to find meditation; The wounded healer; Buddhist, therapist, and educator
  • About this book: My inspiration; My aspiration; My apology; My arc toward human being
  • Overview of content and chapter

Chapter 2: East meets West

  • Why bring together Western psychotherapy and Eastern wisdom traditions?
  • Wholeness: Human being and becoming: The trap of Spiritual bypassing; The pitfalls of introspection; My experience
  • Existing systems of Buddhism-informed therapy: Mindfulness based therapies; Mainstream western psychology relationship to Buddhism; Development of contemplative approaches
  • A note on philosophy

Chapter 3: The Human condition

My story of changing identity

  • The View: Suffering; Impermanence; Non-self
  • Vignette
  • “You are perfect…and you could use a little work”
  • Comparing the Buddhist view with Western models: Human nature; Psychological distress; Healing goal
  • Client case study “Deena”: working with identity

Chapter 4: Taking suffering as the path: the first and second Noble Truths

  • Vignette
  • Our body keeps the score
  • Client case study “Claire”: working with bodily held narrative
  • Dis-ease and unravelling karma: The value-added of karma; Ultimate upaya: cultivating 20/20 clarity

Chapter 5: Alleviation of distress: the third and fourth Noble Truths

  • Vignette
  • Mind the gap: Working with the skandhas; Catching the impulse; Working with impulse and the gap
  • Response-ability and choice: Developing the underlying philosophical foundation: Prajna or wisdom; Creating a foundation of ethical behaviour: Sila or discipline; Training the mind: Samadhi or meditation
  • Finding true refuge
  • Client case study “Carol”: working with an anxious storyline

Chapter 6: The role of the therapist-client relationship

  • Vignette
  • To know our suffering
  • Relational wounding, relational healing: Presence; Compassion; Interdependence
  • Presence, Attunement, Resonance, Trust
  • Client case study “Penelope”: working with the internal critic

Chapter 7: The role of meditation practices

  • Vignette
  • De-bunking some meditation myths
  • Types of meditation practice: Shamatha; Vipashyana; As simple as 1,2…and 3; Other practices
  • How meditation may help the therapeutic journey: Stabilising the mind; Knower and known; Experiencing and digesting emotions; Bringing compassion and gentleness
  • Client case study “Sebastian”: working with unfolding experience

Chapter 8: Practical implications and applications

  • Essential ground for the therapist
  • The place of ethics; The Hinayana practice of non-harm; The Mahayana recognition of interdependence and compassion; The ethics of applying Buddhist ethics
  • Working with Buddhists and non-Buddhists; Holding not imposing a view; Skilful means; Discerning between roles of teacher and therapist; Spiritual friendship
  • Client case study “Jacob”: working with a spiritual emergence

Chapter 9: Working with complex presentations

  • Disturbance to the organisation of self: trauma
  • Vignette: emptying the vessel
  • Client case studies in complex presentations
    • Client case study “Simon”: working with Narcissistic Personality Adaptation
    • Client case study “Charlotte”: working with Borderline Personality Adaptation
    • Client case study “Frank”: working with trauma and the Schizoid Personality Adaptation
  • How working with complex presentations shaped my human being

Chapter 10: Benefits of an integrated path

  • Bringing together heaven and earth: A meeting of souls; The ground of psychotherapy; Self and self; Soul and spirit; From Self to non-self?; Joining heaven and earth
  • Karma and the Eight consciousnesses: Vignette: How meditation transforms mind
  • Shuttling between insight and experience
  • Client case study “Jim”: working with spiritual bypassing
    • Discovering my learning edge
    • Working with Puer

Chapter 11: Ground, Path, Fruition

  • Ground: setting out on the journey
  • Path: Personal practice and training: What has the Buddhist frame done for us?; What next?
  • Fruition: Becoming a Buddhism-informed practitioner
  • Becoming a human being: Practice, practice, practice; Postscript: transitioning off the cushion; Practice, practice, practice…enough of the rehearsal, when does the show start?; Don’t shoot the messenger