PZI Teacher Archives

Zen Luminaries: The Zen of Therapy – Jon Joseph in Conversation with Psychiatrist & Author Mark Epstein


For years, Dr. Epstein kept his Buddhist beliefs separate from his work as a psychiatrist. Becoming more open about his spiritual leanings, he was surprised how many of his patients were eager to learn more. Jon Joseph hosts Mark Epstein, MD, for a conversation about the intersection of Buddhism and the practice of psychotherapy. With comments from John Tarrant, Allison Atwill and Joan Sutherland.


Dr. Mark Epstein is a psychiatrist in private practice and the author of numerous books about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy. His recent book, The Zen of Therapy, reflects on one year of sessions with his patients, observing how the therapy relationship is a spiritual friendship where a therapist can help patients realize that there is something magical, something wonderful, and something to trust running through their lives, no matter how fraught.

For years, Dr. Epstein kept his beliefs as a Buddhist separate from his work as a psychiatrist. Content to use his training in mindfulness as a private resource, he trusted that the Buddhist influence could, and should, remain invisible. But as he became more forthcoming with his patients about his personal spiritual leanings, he was surprised to learn how many were eager to learn more.

Other books by Mark Epstein: Thoughts without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, Going on Being, Open to Desire, Psychotherapy without the Self, The Trauma of Everyday Life, and Advice Not Given.

To work something through means to change one’s view; if we try instead to change the emotion, we may achieve some short-term success, but we remain bound by forces of attachment and aversion to the very feelings from which we are struggling to be free.

—Mark Epstein

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