Week 1: The Nature of Mind & Self in Psychoanalytic and Buddhist Perspectives
This first class will address how mind and our experience of self, are understood in Buddhist and psychoanalytic models of interiority. The apparent conundrum of bolstering self in psychodynamic work, while undoing and even uprooting self in Buddhist spiritual practice, will be explored. So too, we’ll examine how the unconscious and conscious aspects of mind are viewed and approached from these different vantage points, and see how these divergent perspectives might be mutually enhancing. We will consider the origins of mind, and the awareness of both mind and self, as it’s understood in Buddhist psychology, and how its development is described in psychoanalytic theory.
Week 2: Intersubjectivity & Interpersonal Dynamics in Buddhism & Psychotherapy
A shared focus in both traditions is the emphasis on a close and meaningful relationship between mentor and mentee. As a relational psychoanalyst, Dr. Jennings will explore how psychotherapy places at its focal point the importance of having one's full spectrum of feelings known, understood, and held by another. In this module, we will explore the ways in which the space between the therapist and patient may be used as a generative and healing realm, a place to experiment with the promises and perils of feeling and being better known. We will compare and contrast these psychoanalytic theories with Buddhist notions of dependent origination and inter-being, and together seek to understand our own subjective response to these theories and methods.
Week 3: Healing the Selfless Self through Countertransference & Transference
In this module we will explore the psychoanalytic theory and experience of transference and countertransference in clinical and spiritual dyads. Themes will include the ways in which patients communicate their unique history and needed healing paths via transference; bridging mindfulness with countertransference to increase attunement; and the language of fantasy and "reverie" in clinical work. Together we will examine how therapists can facilitate a receptive and empathic space through careful attention paid to their own internal response to their clients, and how spiritual practitioners might examine the longings and charged emotional responses that arise in the student/teacher relationship.
Week 4: Buddhist Applications of Love & Compassion in Psychodynamic Treatment
It is often presumed that the role of love and compassion is more relevant in spiritual practice and community than in clinical work. In this last class, we’ll have a look at how such feelings arise in psychoanalytic and therapeutic treatment, and how clinicians might work with these feelings through a Buddhist approach to compassion and its development. One question we will consider is how compassion might become a healing tool more specifically addressed and supported in clinical training? So too, we’ll explore how it has been creatively expressed through the methods offered by clinicians intuitively drawn to clinical treatment informed by empathy, abiding respect, and fellow-feeling.