AABCAP Celebrates 10 Years

2016 AABCAP 10th Year Anniversary

On the 5th November 2016 we celebrated  AABCAP’s  10th Anniversary with an intimate and friendly half day seminar on “Recent developments for mindfulness-based therapists”.  This was An exciting look to the future horizons of mindfulness based therapies in Australia and internationally with speakers Mal Huxter, Dr. Eng-Kong Tan, Geoff Dawson &  Louise Fisher.
Read congratulatory letters from AABCAP’s Past Presidents Genevieve David  (click here) and Petrea King (click here) from Bundanoon, Quest For Life Center.
As we celebrate and mark the 10th Anniversary of AABCAP as an organization and here is a very short version of some of AABCAP history.
AABCAP’s Inaugural Meeting & Symposium was held on 30/9/06 at the State Library of NSW.
  • Ven Dhammagavesi , Chief Incumbent of the Lankarama Temple at Schofield gave the Opening Blessings.
  • Eng- Kong Tan welcomed the participants and presented “Formation of AABCAP”
  • Ven Chokyi spoke on “Counselling Role of Sangha members”
  • Subhana Barzaghi presented “On Being a Buddhist Psychotherapist”
  • Geoff Dawson spoke about our intended “Buddhism & Psychotherapy Course”
  • Tom Downey chaired a Panel Discussion on “Interface between Psychotherapy and Buddhism”
Panel presenters were Ven Tejadhammo, Dr. Wai Mun Tang and Ms. Renate Ogilvie.  The day concluded with Eng Kong chairing “the Inaugural Meeting of AABCAP”
The first Management Committee meeting was on 21/10/06 held at Metta Clinic, Pymble.
Eng-Kong Tan was President, Geoff Dawson was Vice President, general practitioner Dr. Tom Downey was treasurer and acting secretary
Committee members included psychology student Joyce Man who is now lecturing at Macquarie Uni and President of its Buddhist Society and about to re-join us as a Committee member, Psychiatrist Dr. Wai Mun Tang, psychologist, Kristina Jacobs and affiliate member Swee Haa Tan.
  • Megan Thorpe and Brian Gutkin joined by the 2nd MC meeting on 25/11/06
  • Helen Sharwood joined by the 4th MC meeting 2/3/07.
  • AABCAP incorporated 11th August/06
  • The 1st AGM was held 20th October 2007.
All the minutes from these early meetings are retained and treasured in “The Red Book.”
Here are a few snippets from  the minutes of The 1st AABCAP Symposium 30th September 2006 that are relevant to this day.
Ven Tenzin Chokyi on The  Counselling Role of Sangha Members
“The point was made that Western psychological interpretations may be too narrow whereas in the East, they are broad, e.g. we are all mentally ill in that we misperceive reality- thus we all need help.”   And goes onto say
In summary, in order for a Sangha member to be a good therapist, he or she should ideally have adequate training in Buddhism and Psychotherapy, should know of his/her limitations and be aware of the effect of his/her role on the lay person.”
It is good to note our  Professional training is open to all Buddhist nuns and monks to attend for no fee. From my personal experience this brings another richness to our training course.
Subbhana Barzaghi On Being a Buddhist Psychotherapist
“Mindfulness therapies are not techniques so much as a way of life for the therapist.  As therapists, we need to learn to ‘think with the heart’, i.e. to integrate more tenderness, care and radical acceptance into our lives- qualities which have been neglected by traditional psychotherapy.”
Geoff Dawson on Towards a Buddhism and Psychotherapy Curriculum
“With regard to the curriculum, cor aspects of Buddhist teaching such as the 4 Noble truths, The Eight Fold Path will form the theoretical base. There will also be the cultivation of non-conceptual experience, meditation principally, as a vital part of the curriculum.”
And goes onto say…
“In summary, the course may focus on training in mindfulness, the cultivation of wisdom and ethics and how these three bodies of teaching support one another. The curriculum could integrate Buddhist philosophy, psychology and practises to bring ethical conduct to life in the consultation room.”
He also invited the audience to make suggestions it was minuted “it was clear Buddhism and Psychotherapy do have an area of overlap and also distinctly different areas of theories and practise.
 Ven Tejadhammo as part of the discussion panel reminded us…
“the Buddha asked 3 central questions of the people who came to speak with him, viz.
  • Are you well?
  • Do you have enough to eat?
  • Are you dwelling in harmony with yourself?
Dr Stephanie Dowrick as part of the same panel
Pointed out that we always have  a level of faith, in something. She thought the 3rd question Ven Tejadhammo mentioned that the Buddha asked, viz. ‘are you dwelling in harmony with yourself’ was a key question as she feels the vital issue common to Buddhism and Psychotherapy   to address,  is whether practice is softening the mind to move toward the heart.”
Genevieve David  in the handover of the Presidency said to me “here is the Red Book” Its inspiring to read and you will find the beginnings of everything that is already in place”.
I would like to thank our past Presidents,
Eng-Kong Tan, Meagan Thorpe, Brian Gutkin and Genevieve David and our Education Officer Nicholas Tabley for holding AABCAP together over the years and the many wonderful Committee members who have devoted time and our founder and chair Eng-Kong Tan for his continuing belief and inspirational leadership of AABCAP.
Looking to the Future
Having experienced the AABCAP Buddhism and Psychotherapy Training or PTC, I can say that what was set in place so long ago by hard working, kind and gifted people, with enormous faith in what they were creating has become a reality.
I would like to see this become a University level training followed by a Masters incorporating many of the modules from the current course, at a more comprehensive training level. Mainly so this unique and special training can survive. Whilst we all have good will a lot of time and voluntary effort goes into this training.  It still has a vibrant life but it could be good to think about 10 years from now.
However, only if the teaching style remained the same. One cannot separate Buddhist Dharma from the teaching style.  What is modelled by the teachers   matters as much as the curriculum. Our teachers with Buddhism in their hearts and mindfulness as part of their everyday being play a big part in students understanding of Buddhist Psychology and Philosophy and its place in Psychotherapy.  I am referring here to teachers who practice what they preach and embody the teachings.  So the beingness of the teachers continues to flow from module to module and the retreats deepens and anchors the fundamentals of being a Buddhist Psychotherapist.
To quote Eng-Kong Tan from a discussion panel he attended on behalf of AABCAP at the last PACFA Conference, discussing a literature review on The Effectiveness of Spiritual/religious Interventions in Psychotherapy and Counselling which Eng –Kong mentioned in his presentation…
“Buddhism is much more a Psychology of the Humanistic Tradition and a SPIRITUALITY than a RELIGION.
As the review uses the definition of Spirituality, Buddhism is mainly about TRANSCENDENCE and its spirituality in the areas of humanism, nature/ecology and cosmos – beyond the I, me and mine to the transcendent – and its teachings and meditative practices in these 3 areas of spirituality are of direct clinical relevance and therapeutic value.”
He went on to say…
“The helping professionals are practicing the Mindfulness-Based Therapies for themselves and their clients quite well.  It is through MINDFULNESS they are drawn towards the other teachings and practices from the spiritual tradition of Buddhism.  PhD thesis, clinical and research papers are moving from MINDFULNESS to specific mindful-meditative practices cultivating loving kindness and compassion coming directly from Buddhist practice.  In AABCAP’s PTC, these aspects of Buddhist spirituality are integrated as experiential exercises.  Buddhist teachings cuts unhealthy narcissism at its roots, when we integrate Buddhism and Psychotherapy in the relational space of the therapeutic dyad.”
“We’re at a time where practitioners are moving from hiding in the closet, implicit position, to out in the therapy world explicitly declaring and INTEGRATING spirituality and therapy. “
In closing I would like to thank Louise Fisher who is now stepping down from Director of Training and has brought so much to AABCAP and the Professional Training course. Louise you are loved and will be missed.
And of course, Thank you to all our AABCAP Members who stay with us and support AABCAP .
Chrissie Koltai
AABCAP President