While meditation has been around for centuries, psychotherapy didn’t become a popular and
well-used treatment aid until fairly recent decades.
Some might argue that cognitive behavioral therapy (the most common type of psychotherapy)
did exist in some form since Freud and his successors. That being said it was often unethical and
unregulated and a standard ‘modus operandi’ (mode of operation) was not decided upon.
Meditators and psychotherapists and psychologists have reached a consensus regarding the
intertwining of their fields and the effectiveness of patient treatment.
Is Psychotherapy A Revised Approach To Meditation?
It is not strange that psychotherapy should be considered a new and different way to practice
meditation. It does satisfy one of the basic premises which are mindfulness and inducing
acceptance of negative thoughts or past trauma.
One can also say that in both cases a trained expert is present to guide you through although
meditation can be practiced alone as well.
A renowned medical practitioner by the name of Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 70s believed the concept
that psychotherapy could be practiced by employing the meditation principle of mindfulness. He
came up with a technique which is still used called ‘mindfulness-based stress reduction.’
Practicing Meditation And Availing Psychotherapy Together
There are some key benefits of incorporating both methods as a treatment method in your life. It
is not surprising that they work well together and can in many cases prove to be more effective
as a combination than on their own.
Diving Into Yourself
A lot of people go to psychotherapy because of mental issues which more often than not arise
from a poor understanding of oneself. The patient may be suppressing their true desires and
personality or may find their thoughts and preferences unacceptable. This can be the proverbial
breeding ground for all kinds of mental disorders starting with anxiety disorders.
Meditation acts in a very similar way by bringing out your true selves or ‘shadow selves’
through a range of techniques so that we can get a better look at what is causing our issues.
Practicing both together means double the benefit as two approaches will be applied to the same
Proactive Not Reactive
If our mind is at all times cluttered with emotional debris and unresolved issues, our relationships
with others suffer and we deal poorly with people on a daily basis. A person who is calm inside
is a winner in difficult situations and is less prone to stressful meltdowns.
Both psychotherapy and meditation work towards this goal simultaneously by bringing forward
issues to resolve and clearing out the unnecessary thoughts in your mind. This will lead you to
become a more sensible decision maker, more intuitive and less prone to being a victim in
situations you cannot control.
It is no secret that emotional disturbances, depression, anxiety, and the brain working overtime
are hindrances to productivity at work or anywhere else where you want to apply yourself.
There have been cases of people actually discontinuing pharmaceutical psychiatric pills in favor
of meditation. Since meditation has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, enhance
production of endorphins and serotonin, it can actually prove to be a very worthwhile alternative.
Psychotherapy as well with techniques like EMDR, hypnotic therapy and aversion therapy, the
same results can be expected. In many cases, psychotherapy can work to extract trauma and
hidden issues and meditation can work to resolve them in a healthy, serene way.
Psychotherapy in its essence can ‘put you on the spot’ and make you conjure up the past which is
then made less painful on account of it being the past, not the present. Meditation also promotes
mindfulness, living in the present, and leaving behind anxious foreboding for the future.
Appreciate The ‘Now’
There are a number of reasons why our present may be displayed in the worst possible light to
us. Remember the old adage of ‘things are never as bad as they seem?’ This can be if there are
toxic and negative people surrounding you or you are the sufferer of a mental disorder.
You may even be inclined to have a poor view of your life if you are stuck in the wrong line of
work and feel depressed and disillusioned as a result. Both psychotherapy and meditation help
dispel these illusions. They give you the strength to identify the wrongs and make decisions
which serve you not someone else.
Many of us are also stuck in notions of what is expected of us and what is acceptable within our
own social circles. Meditation and psychotherapy can work to bring to light what you want and
how you can make it happen. Most of all, it teaches us that it’s alright to not want the same thing
as what we’ve been told.
How To Add Meditation To Your Therapy Routine
A growth in articles, books, and videos about how to do meditation means it can be done easily
enough at home but real results come from working with an expert meditator.
While most forms of psychotherapy incorporate some element of mindfulness to help patients, in
many cases the therapist might suggest meditation as a useful addition to the treatment plan.
If the therapist is trained in meditation they may suggest sessions after or before your
psychotherapy. They may also refer you to an expert meditator if they feel you will have trouble
with the revelations that have come forth in therapy.
Meditation is also sometimes used as a sustainable tool for when the patient is at home or at
work and does not have access to their therapist. It can help calm them down, to deal with panic
attacks and has been used successfully to prevent self-harm.
The Third Person Perspective
Psychology talks about self-perception as a dynamic phenomenon which is created in two key
ways. One way in which we learn to perceive ourselves is through a collection of experiences
which may be positive or negative and the second way is what we hear and see from others.
It is no surprise then that people that have abusive parents etc may grow up with a poor self-
image which is far from the truth.
One of the major premises of meditation is to provide a third-person perspective on your
problems and doubts. While normally we would be looking at this through the same self-image
as discussed above, meditation provides a stranger’s look into the matter.
It cultivates a third eye that can minimize the pain associated with past trauma or the issues of
the present. In this way, it is apparent that psychotherapy and meditation are two peas in a pod.
All Focus On You
Psychotherapy and meditation are powerful tools and even more so when practiced together.
They both focus on the individual in his or her entirety and detract focus from the outside to
cultivate it within.
In a manner of speaking, they both instill certain skills of being able to view events in their
correct context. This detachment can help you process incidents from your past without feeling
pain each time you are reminded of them.
A study was carried out on 215 patients who were administered cognitive therapy and
mindfulness treatment (a type of meditation infused with concepts of psychology). They showed
a dramatic decrease in depression and anxiety after 8 weeks suggesting that both these methods
complement each other exceedingly well.