Drawing the Boundaries between “Religion” and “Secular” in Psychotherapists' Approaches to Buddhist Traditions in the United States

The use of Buddhist teachings and practices in psychotherapy, once described as a new popular trend, should now be considered an established clinical practice. Religious studies scholars often offer interpretations of these activities that are based in binary understandings of the classifications “r...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Main Author: Helderman, Ira
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: [2016]
In:Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Year: 2016, Volume: 84, Issue: 4, Pages: 937-972
Standardized Subjects / Keyword chains:B USA / Psychotherapist / Buddhism / Secularism / Religion
Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
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Summary:The use of Buddhist teachings and practices in psychotherapy, once described as a new popular trend, should now be considered an established clinical practice. Religious studies scholars often offer interpretations of these activities that are based in binary understandings of the classifications “religion” and “secular.” They frequently name these activities as either new religious forms, “new faces of Buddhism,” or products of secularization, “the silent takeover of religion.” Psychotherapists have, however, taken a wide variety of approaches to Buddhist traditions. Some clinicians intentionally secularize Buddhist practices, while others explicitly present a Buddhist path as a superior source of healing. I argue that psychotherapists' diverse approaches are molded by their own relative levels of investment in preserving psychotherapy's qualification as a secular biomedical discipline. I demonstrate that “religion” and “secular” are not only abstract categories for scholarly classification but concrete determinants of behavior for contemporary communities.
ISSN:1477-4585
Contains:Enthalten in: American Academy of Religion, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1093/jaarel/lfw003