Zen & Psychotherapy: Integrating Traditional and Nontraditional Approaches

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Exploring the role of spirituality and religion in treatment, this book provides a sound clinical and academic rationale for exploring incorporating principles of Zen in traditional psychotherapy.

The authors, one a clinical educator and social scientist, the other a nurse psychotherapist and practicing Buddhist present a fascinating dialog on the "science" and the "art" sides of the art-science debate. Practical suggestions are included for achieving a balance between these two poles of the helping and healing process.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826120342
  • Publisher: Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Mruk, PhD, was trained in general psychology at Michigan State University in 1971 and in clinical psychology at Duquesne University in 1981. His clinical background includes working in inpatient and outpatient mental health settings, supervising a methadone program in Detroit, working in emergency psychiatric services, directing a counseling center at St. Francis College in Pennsylvania, doing some private practice, and serving as a consulting psychologist to Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky, Ohio. He is licensed as a clinical psychologist in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Chris's academic experience includes some 20 years of teaching psychology and training mental health professionals. He is a professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University, Firelands College, Ohio, where he has won the college's Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Scholar awards. His publications include a number of academically oriented articles, several chapters and, coauthored with Joan Hartzell, Zen and Psychotherapy: Integrating Tradition and Nontraditional Approaches (2003, paperback 2006, Springer Publishing Company). Chris and his Wife Marsha, whose career involves directing large-scale mental health programs, live in Sandusky, Ohio.

Joan Hartzell, RN, MA, graduated from the St. Joseph's School of Nursing in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1950. After working in medical hospital care positions for some eight years, she found herself so interested in mental health issues that she switched to psychiatric nursing. This work included providing mental health care on inpatient units, doing psychiatric consultations on medical units and at nursing home facilities, and then supervising mental health programs, such as the St. Lawrence Community Mental Health Center in Lansing, Michigan. This work included developing a 24-hour comprehensive psychiatric emergency service that was recognized as an exemplary program by the National Institute of Mental Health in 1974-75.

Shortly afterward, Joan realized that her approach to providing mental health care had much more in common with Zen than with the scientific empiricism of modern psychiatry. After beginning her study of the teachings of the Buddha in the early 1980s, she explored other nontraditional approaches, including Native American healing. Joan then completed a Master's degree in therapeutic psychology from Norwich University, Vermont College, in Montpelier in 1994. Throughout this time she has continued to study Zen, while living it in her work at community mental health centers where she helps people who suffer from serious illness, and in her private practice.

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Table of Contents

Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Therapies
The Basic Principles of Zen and Their Psychotherapeutic Implications
From Realism to Idealism: Traditional Therapies and Zen
Practical Applications: Zen in the Clinical Setting
Zen and Psychotherapy: Possibilities and Limits
Appendix I: Glossary
Appendix II: Zen Resources
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2006

    Professional Review of Zen and Psychotherapy

    Zen and Psychotherapy: Integrating Traditional and Nontraditional Psychotherapies by Christopher J. Mruk with Joan Hartzell, published by Springer Publishing Company (2003) is challenging because it deals with two problems which are bound to generate serious thinking and meaningful debate. The first one concerns two points of view that characterize Western thought. They create the great debate between Idealism and Realism that goes back throughout our entire culture to the ancient Greeks. On the one hand, there are those who feel that certain ideals, such as an inner self or even a soul, are essential to understanding human beings. On the other hand, others believe that if something cannot be based on observation, measurement, or experimentation, then it should not be a part of modern science or therapy. Second, the book also must deal with another conflict of equal magnitude, namely the contradictory values of the West and East. For example, the Western inclination to seek objective knowledge in order to gain predictability and control stands in contrast to an Eastern preference to let things ¿be¿ and to let them ¿go.¿ Although many disciplines and books can afford to ignore these two basic tensions as ¿merely¿ academic, those who want to understand human problems, reduce suffering, or help people improve their lives cannot. Since the book seeks to achieve some degree of integration between these two basic positions, it cleverly takes the form of a dialog. Mruk, a professor of clinical psychology, eloquently speaks for traditional therapies, empirical research, and treatments that work. Hartzell, a nurse and counselor, insightfully presents the other side of the coin based on decades of practicing therapy from a Zen perspective. Mruk begins by describing the recent surge of interest in complementary and alternative medicine that is popular today and why the same thing is happening in mental health. For instance, he reports on research that says nearly two-thirds of mental health patients in treatment for anxiety or depression seek out alternative treatments. In chapter two Hartzell describes 10 basic Buddhist and Zen principles that have therapeutic implications for mental health work. Next, Mruk talks about where Zen may fit into the traditional scientific spectrum by convincingly taking a patient who suffers from depression through biological, cognitive, learning, humanistic and then Zen based therapies. In chapter 4, Hartzell presents actual clinical vignettes that show how she uses Zen principles to aid patients suffering from a wide range of mental health problems. She also discusses how Zen helps her deal with managed care, avoid burnout, and successfully practice for over 50 years now. In the last chapter, both authors effectively use dialogue to demonstrate that therapists, teachers, and others may incorporate Zen into their work and lives without compromising their professional or religious principles. Of course, such different ideas and values cannot hope to be brought together in perfect harmony. Yet, Mruk and Hartzell do manage to create a serious, lively, and above all friendly dialog in which the reader may participate. Their attempt to come to terms with these issues is based on the concept of the ¿Middle Path.¿ For Zen and Psychotherapy, this road is one that avoids extremes such as having to be a ¿true believer¿ or a ¿real¿ scientist by emphasizing basic principles, especially meditation. The result may not convince those who are hard and fast one way or the other, but it certainly gives the rest of us a clearer place to stand in regard to these powerful issues. Finally, the book offers several solid, practical suggestions that may benefit clients, clinicians, and their educators. Mary Ann Salotti, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Counseling Center, Calif

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