It's pretty evident that meditation itself helps you deal with your problems and inner issues, but is it okay for a lay meditator to pay a psychologist/therapist to talk about his or her feelings.

But then this raises concern if the therapist will see things from Buddhas teachings point of view. Meditation teachers are expert teachers and not necessarily good at listening to stories about what happened in your childhood for example and talking about it. Their answers, even though may be with complete metta, are only in the range of 'just observe' and 'keep trying' which is mostly what you need to do.

I know that but sometimes there just doesn't seem to be a link between sitting on a cushion observing breath or sensations when something is bothering you on a daily or recurring basis.

7 Answers 7


Both Mediation and Counselling can help. Talking about something can help you lighten your mind. Similarly meditation can help your reduce stress. But it is best to keep them independent without having spill over from one form of perspective to the other when you meet the respective people / crowd.

If there is any perspective which contradicts the other, you can evaluate both and decide whether to choose between them or formulate your own perspective.

The main idea in Buddhism is to see things as they are. So be prepared to set aside any perspective you build from either advice or your thinking when you see things for yourself through your practice.

Following courses also might be of help:


I know this feeling very well!

I saw a whole host of therapists of the years due to childhood stuff, whilst also doing daily practise. As I got older, the more my relationship with certain therapists changed. I was pretty fed up of seeing therapists and was dedicating a lot of time to the Dharma and going to temple whilst juggling a very stressful job. In the end, I thought I'd give therapy another shot and found myself in a very submissive conflict with my therapist. She thought my Buddhist beliefs and ways of dealing with a lot of pain or upset was simply another way of suppressing it all. She saw my religion as a coping mechanism. I agreed to disagree with her and eventually moved away and haven't seen another therapist since, but instead am heavily devoted to my practise and to trust my instincts further.

There is no shame in seeing a therapist as a Buddhist practitioner but be aware of coming up against those who have the somewhat Marxist belief of religion being the opiate of the masses. Even mindfulness therapists sometimes just don't 'get' it. I once saw a Child Regression Therapist and saw through them within the first 10 minutes and didn't go back again -- this therapist was so wrapped up in their own beliefs they wished to project it onto their clients, and I'm sure it worked in most cases, but I just wasn't buying it. However, even if the therapy does not particularly work, yet you find yourself talking things through with others, then in that way, it is working. Sometimes you have to filter through the 'guff' before you begin to be able to let go of it all.

Even if it doesn't work out, you will still gain from it in some way. Being at peace with yourself and battling memories, trauma, and the subsequent self annihilation is one of the hardest things to do, and Buddhism and therapy often does support each other. But it is also very easy to slip into Western therapy ideologies and lose some of the instinctive Buddhist understanding. As long as you remain aware, you will be fine!


The Buddha encouraged people to contemplate his teachings and see for themselves if they take it or leave it. You have to decide that for yourself, especially in case of contradiction. I don't really see the problem you're facing, it may a bit confusing and all but it won't work counterproductive if that concerns you.

If you haven't already, maybe take a look at The Abhidhamma if you are interested in phenomenological psychology.


You are talking about 2 different tools that should be used for for 2 different goals, if you need a hammer to do a job it does not make a shovel an useless tool, it is just for a different job.

Meditation is a tool for enlightment, calm, tranquility and insight into the nature of reality. Meditation is part of a spiritual path in Buddhism.

Therapy is a tool for understanding the unconscious mind, useful to deal with traumas, phobias and difficult moments, it is not part of a spiritual path eventhough it can make you a better human being.

You can use both at the same time if you need, both work with the mind, they don't repeal each other, they have different goals and create different outcomes. There is nothing in the Dhamma against a good and professional Therapy as far as I'm aware. (as long as your psychologist doesn't give you strong medication for small problems)

PS: After sometime it is likely that you will replace Therapy for meditation, especially if you have a good meditation teacher and if you put some effort on it, you will see therapy is very useful in the short term, but meditation can give you more powerful insights in the long run.

  • I can't say I agree with the reasons the tools are used for. The rest I agree with. I think the reasons you mentioned for both the rules are interlinked. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 14:52
  • alright, so how would you see it? what are the purposes of the 2 tools in your view?
    – konrad01
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 14:55
  • I think meditation encompasses all kinds of therapies because it's a therapy in itself against all maladies in life. Even what you mentioned understanding traumas, phobias, difficult times can be understood through meditation(if done properly) so therapy would be a smaller sub set and both not mutually exclusive. But only my opinion. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 14:59
  • I agree they don't repeal each other and can work in paralel. The point is: Meditation is a tool for the long run, benefits are stronger but take time when compared to therapy that can help you with an urgent issue. Imagine a suicidal, what would be more useful to prevent him from killing himself or jump out of the window? I think therapy! Meditation is for a higher goal, requires more effort, more time etc
    – konrad01
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 15:04

The co-founder the Insight Meditation Society Jack Kornfield really advocates the use of both psychotherapy and meditation. He has a PhD in clinical psychotherapy and in his (excellent) book A Path with Heart he devotes an entire chapter on psychotherapy and meditation. To quote the opening chapters

The best of modern therapy is much like a process of shared meditation, where therapist a client sit together, learning to pay close attention to those dimensions and aspects of the self that a client will be unable to touch on his or her own.

He also says more here about the relationship between the two.

For me, understanding the nature of the (not?) self is such a demanding task, why wouldn't you use every tool at your disposal.


Depending on the quality of your teacher, it might be often the case. Actually, on a straight way, no. And it will merely disturb the success of Buddhas treatment. Its a very straight forward and easy to read essay, maybe you would like to give it a read: Affirming the Truths of the Heart: The Buddhist Teachings on Samvega & Pasada. The teachings of the Buddha do not have the aim to keep you to be a productive member of the on-turning wheel, but to provide you a possibility to gain liberation. That is the main but significant different between this two treatments.

But all of the possible ways for a particular person, depend on his own potential, gained in the past and effort-ed now. There is no such as secure aside of actually really on the eightfold path.


As long as it helps. Personally I got to a point where I felt my maturity as an individual due to spiritual practice had developed beyond the point of needing a Western therapist/psychologist. This especially became evident as I realized my own personal values and spiritual practices were out of line with that of my therapist's. For example, if your psychologist does not believe pornography or masturbation are harmful, but your spiritual teacher does, then they become an obstruction.

I have found much of the Western psychology movement to not be very grounded in spiritual principles. Some are, but generally I think you find that a good guru is going to be your real guide through the world. I think in countries like India where gurus and saints are more common, having a psychologist is probably unheard of. The guru's real role is to provide that sort of guidance, and to enable you to solve problems on your own. If it helps you at the moment, do what helps. You shouldn't not take medicine if it helps you on your path.

I gratefully took anti-depressants and they helped me a great deal in regaining my mind. Same principle applies to anything else. Seek a real guru who you can devote yourself to, he or she is the real therapist. In time I think your practice will elevate you to the point where you will find you growing out of that desire for a therapist, but don't be ashamed if it helps you.

  • Edit: Added line-spacing to increase readability.
    – user2424
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 9:55

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