If you’re an Emergency Worker then you know about critical stress first hand. If you’ve read my story you know that I’ve been there too, and that I’m training as a Counselling Psychologist so that I can help others through online counselling.
Today, my approach to critical stress is a combination of Western psychology, based on the scientific insights of today’s leading researchers and clinicians, and Eastern spiritual insight based on the legacy of 2500 years of continuous spiritual exploration.
Surprisingly, as I went through my Masters program, I learned that Eastern spiritual understanding is a rich and active area of growth in mainstream Western psychology. It seems that we are in a time when the ‘head’ of Western science and the ‘heart’ of Eastern insight are coming together and finding out that they have more similarities than differences.
Zen, Taoism, Tai Chi, Yoga, meditation and other pearls of wisdom from the East have become common ideas today in our culture. There are dozens of books and literally thousands of studies showing that the practices of Eastern contemplative traditions really work. The Dalai Lama has regular meetings with top western psychologists to exchange notes and Tibetan monks and Zen masters have been wired up, CAT scanned and poked and prodded. The results show that what we do can change who, and what, we are. The fundamental topics of mindfulness and skillfulness have been turned into a slew of Western psychological ‘approaches’, all drawing on basic Eastern teachings. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Focusing, Hakomi and many other Western psychological approaches all take these ancient teachings and wrap them up in carefully reserached and crafted modern methods.
Our enhanced ability to understand how our brains work have given us new and unprecedented intellectual knowledge of how this contemplative insight process actually works. The ancient masters and mystics from all the worlds contemplative traditions knew nothing about neuroplasticity and epigenetics, but they managed to create a system of growth and healing that our modern science is slowly proving works.
Below is the beginning of a series of essays describing what we as mental health professionals have learned. Here are the first few articles.
PART ONE – The Basics.
PART TWO – MINDFULNESS
PART THREE – WHAT TO EXPECT IN COUNSELLING WITH MARC
8 – What to Expect