How are people finding this module?

As a Buddhist psychotherapist I have been surprised at the content of this module. The excessive repetition, and grammar and spelling (both in English and Pāli) seems as though none of the material has been checked, so much so that some sentences make no sense at all. But what concerned me most was that there seemed to be barely anything in all the material provided, on psychotherapy. It seems to be mostly lists, and some explanation about how meditation is good for us (which I would say comes under basic Buddhism), and the occasional claim like that Buddhagosa was "an eminent psychiatrist"! I have failed to see how any of the material gives any insight or even explanation of psychotherapy, let alone any form of Buddhist psychotherapy. Am I alone in this?

Antonio Perasso's picture

Buddhist Psychotherapy

At the beginning when I red the papers for the first time I was also impressed about the poverty of the material provided , I do not know why , but I was expecting more .
Then , I red the two suggested books “Buddhist Psychotherapy - H.S.S. Nissanka ” and “ An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology - Padmasiri de Silva “ and I red again the papers for a second time and I started to get a more clear picture of the course . I think we need to change our Paradigma and not strictly compare Buddhist Psychology to Western Psychology . In the latter the therapy is targeted to a specific patient with a tailor made treatment , instead Buddhism hold the view that all , more or less , we are mentally disturbed and the target is an universal therapy which allows everybody to extinguish “ Lobha - Dosa and Moha “ and get Liberated .
I am not a Psychologist , neither a therapist , but I think , drawn from my own personal experience that the four Brahmaviharas and the four Mindfulness could be powerful tools that a psychologist could integrate with Western Psychology . Finally the teachings on Patience , Generosity , Love and kindness and Compassion can help the therapist to create a better relationship with his patients .

Useful? Sure....

While I acknowledge some of the same frustration with this course, particularly with the language use issue, I have found these modules useful in that things introduced in the course motivated me to do further research. As I am not a psychotherapist, I wanted a cursory understanding of the topic. Between the translation of many Buddhist concepts into English and the variety of English use patterns used in instruction more generally, I find a reliance on the course material alone, insufficient. There is, however, a plethora of information available online in the form of academic articles--certainly in a variety of qualities--on the topic of Buddhist psychotherapy. I can understand how a practising Buddhist psychotherapist might find a, what I categorise as introductory, course in the topic a bit lacking. Also, I believe it was suggested on this thread that the recommended readings be available in the e-library...that would be extremely helpful as I believe some students find it very difficult to find the books for purchase depending on the country they live in.


I am studying not only Buddhism or psychology in general, but VEDANTA (Indian philosophy) as well.
I had to find teachings by WESTERN (White) teachers (thankfully they exist) because Hindu gurus' English is most of the time either very difficult to understand, or plain atrocious.
There are exceptions, but very few and far between.
To be honest, I also followed western philosophy courses by a now deceased Duke University professor. He had a very thick TEXAN accent: boy oh boy...and he was a great teacher by the way.
I suppose if your proficiency level is that of a Jack Kornfield or Mark Epstein, you're very unlikely to be taking IBC courses...
I recently watched an interview with the Dalai Lama Karmapa (there are two who vye for the title actually) and I could barely understand what he was saying: that's why they used subtitles.

I found Buddhist psychotherapy useful

I liked the course. I found insight I could use in my private research. Having learnt four foreign languages, I can relate to the issue of compliance with grammar, which to me wasn't a major hindrance. Native English speakers may be biased here. There is a chasm between "school level" English and native level. You won't get native level from the Dalai Lama himself, either. I was shocked when I actually watched interviews with noted Zen master Deshimaru. He is credited with translating great Zen works into French, but his French was like first year level. Suzuki Roshi wasn't much better in English. I therefore applaud the birth of homegrown Buddhist teachers like Robert Thurman, Lama Michel Rinpoche etc.
But I learnt enough in the course to justify me taking it.
We should appreciate IBC's effort.

Justin Williams's picture

Hi Gregory,Yes I suppose

Hi Gregory,
Yes I suppose your comments on handouts in general is fair. I decided for the most part to study each module by reading up on what the best sources are on each topic, since the course material provided has so far mostly be poor. For example the Bodhisattva course used Dr. Peter Della Santina's work, which seemed to contain quite a few factual errors, and a lack of references, making it rather useless for me personally. I would find it more helpful if the books on the reading list were in the digital library also. It does seem somewhat that we are given essays and exams but further than that we basically have to find our own way to learn the topics. I am actually ok with that, since at least it pushed me to study by the deadlines. But this particular module is something which is particularly interesting to me, since I am a practicing Buddhist AND a practicing Buddhist Psychotherapist. I had thought that a Buddhist College might have some very good input into this topic but I find basically no input at all into it from the course material. I was left wondering if the author actually knew what psychotherapy is!

[edit - strange my reply appears above yours Gregory, should be below if this is chronological order! And yes, a delete button would be good!]

Gregory Hamilton Schmidt's picture


Justin - I agree that it would be beneficial if more of the recommended reading was in the digital library, but like you I'm working on my own to expand my knowledge and use the lecture notes as a starting point for each topic.

I'm also substantially expanding my home library in the process!

I think with the resources of the IBC, this could be a very rich program, however, given the lack of forum participation in English, I can only assume that current registration is quite low, so perhaps the EMA is not a great priority.

My own background includes training and online learning, so I'd love an opportunity to work to update this program to extend its reach and deepen its context - someday.


Gregory Hamilton Schmidt's picture

Lecture Notes

While I'm not taking or planning to take Buddhist Psychotherapy, I have to echo your sentiments on the handouts in general.

There are numerous typographical and grammatical errors in the handouts, some rendering portions of the content unintelligible.

So much so, I've considered retyping all of the handouts with a consistent format for the benefit of future students.

That said, as for the content of the courses I've taken - Theravada, Mahayana, Indian Buddhism, Abhidhamma, Abhidharma, Chinese Buddhism - I'm finding the content more than worthwhile.

What is your overall impression?

I feel with some minor cleanup to the content and some consistency in the formatting (at least for the courses I've taken) the content is acceptable and valuable, though some additional video lectures would be appreciated.

Gregory Hamilton Schmidt's picture


Looks like this posted twice

A delete function here would be beneficial