Core process psychotherapy

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Core process psychotherapy practices a Buddhist awareness as the centre of a healing relationship between client and psychotherapist. It is taught at the Karuna Institute which was founded in 1984 by Maura Sills and Franklyn Sills.[1] The Karuna Institute, set in Devon, England teaches students to become core process psychotherapists through a four-year MA training as well as a two-year MA post qualification training, both validated by Middlesex University. Maura Sills is still teaching on the courses which take place there with other staff which are also Karuna trained. After graduation students work towards accreditation with the UKCP.

Core Process Psychotherapy relies implicitly on the knowledge we have gained from depth psychology i.e. the work of Freud, Jung and subsequent psychoanalytic research. It makes use of transference and counter-transference as psychotherapeutic tools but it does not stop there. In practice it incorporates the tools of the object relations model of W.R.D. Fairbairn and Donald Winnicott into a transpersonal therapy which seeks to heal through awareness and the holding field. The training is largely experiential and significant emphasis is placed on the perinatal theories of Frank Lake and William R. Emerson. The breathwork of Stanislav Grof is also implicated. The Core Process itself refers to the inherent health-seeking of the organism which the therapy is designed to catalyse.

This type of therapy is non-interpretative and allows the client to discover for him/her self, in relationship with the therapist, what s/he needs to know. The therapist and practitioner create, in Buddhist terms, an awareness field and it is a tenet of Core Process psychotherapy that awareness is of itself curative. In the experience of its exponents, then, matters brought into awareness in the consulting room are subject to subliminal healing processes as well as traditional psychological insights. The client's awareness may also be directed during the work to the internal sensations of the body since the body is understood as a manifestation of consciousness.

Little has been written about Core Process Psychotherapy and it remains to some extent an unknown quantity even amongst professionals in the field, despite Maura's work for UKCP. Franklyn's book "Being and Becoming: Psychodynamics, Buddhism, and the Origins of Selfhood" [2] covers the theoretical ground of Core process psychotherapy.

Furthermore,there are some articles which Maura Sills has co-authored with Judy Lown. Licking Honey from the Razor's Edge" [3] explains that "licking honey from the razor's edge is a very appropriate description of what is called for from the Buddhist-oriented practitioner in Core Process psychotherapy. It calls for a very personal challenge of being affected, of being involved, of being engaged, of being available." [4]


  1. ^ Franklyn is also a pioneering practitioner and teacher of Craniosacral Biodynamics and has written on this subject. Craniosacral Biodynamics vols. I & II (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2001 & 2004)
  2. ^ (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2009)
  3. ^ published in "The Psychology of Awakening" (Rider, 1999)
  4. ^ There is also a paper given by Maura Sills to the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association in 2005 entitled "The Field of Subliminal Mind and the Nature of Being". Copies of these papers are available from the Karuna Institute, Natsworthy Manor, Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon TQ13 7TR. Her talks at Gaia House are available from and these also throw light on the assumptions underpinning Core Process Psychotherapy.

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