Buddhism is a philosophy, a way of life and a religion. Couples seeking marriage counseling with a Buddhist approach should select a counselor who embraces Buddhism philosophically and spiritually. It is not necessary for those seeking counseling to be Buddhist or to have studied Buddhism.
Buddhist counseling focuses on mindfulness. Mindfulness means being wholly present in the here and now, in body and in mind. Mindfulness as an approach to counseling and therapy means changing the underlying emotions that drive discord and unhappiness. Rather than reacting to the words and actions of others, mindfulness is non-reactive.
Buddha would never charge
Buddhism should be available to all those seeking truth. Buddha himself never exacted a fee or payment of any kind for his teachings.
Counseling with your loving partner from a Buddhist perspective should not require monetary exchange as this is antithetical to Buddhist teachings.
Interactive Buddhist counseling online
There are two primary approaches to free online Buddhist marriage counseling that are available today. Actual interactive therapy using video conferencing allows the couple to see, speak and interact with the therapist. There are very few of these sessions available, and fewer that are free.
A dedicated Buddhist counselor, Amita O’Toole, offers clients an opportunity to receive her particular brand of counseling online and through telephone counseling sessions. Areas of focus as listed on her website include relationship counseling and divorce. Educated as a mindfulness-based cognitive therapist (MBCT), O’Toole has focused her research on Buddhist therapy. She has been a practicing Buddhist for many years and integrates her Buddhist beliefs with western psychotherapy in her counseling sessions. The initial consultation is provided for free. Amita O’Toole is Canadian, and her clients contact her from Canada, the US and the UK. She is on Twitter, and her website is available on all major search engines. (www.buddhisttherapist.com)
Free online counseling that is more plentiful but less interactive
More readily available, free and online are Buddhist teachings focusing on the dynamics of marriage. “A Happy Married Life: A Buddhist Perspective” by Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda offers the reader Buddhist teachings on the difficulties in marriage today and how to address the conflicts that inevitably arise. This is a how-to therapeutic approach and answers questions of marital strife and harmony. Sharing pain and pleasure, implicit trust and openness between married partners allows the relationship to flourish. Understanding and communicating are two key elements to a successful marriage. The contents are timeless.
Psychotherapy.net is a website that provides articles and interviews specifically on couple’s therapy by experienced Buddhist therapists and psychotherapists. Recommendations are provided for what works from a therapeutic and a personal perspective in the section on couple’s therapy. (http://www.psychotherapy.net)
Buddhist counseling is available from the source, in SIBA, a school in Sri Lanka. This is the Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy, a bona fide educational Buddhist counseling program available both online and physically on site. The skills acquired can be applied to Buddhist counseling of all sorts, including marriage counseling. Psychological therapy from a Buddhist perspective is among the available classes. It is not clear whether there are fees associated with the online Buddhist educational program. Upon completion of the program, a student receives a diploma. )
Dr. Shoma Morita, a noted Japanese psychiatrist who is now deceased, wrote about marriage and relationships and the cure to marital problems from a Buddhist perspective. He created Morita Therapy, which is a Buddhist approach to mental health. The ToDo Institute website is resource-rich with alternatives to mental health through natural wellness. The resources include online discussions, programs, courses, papers and workshops. The website and programs are not exclusive to online Buddhist marriage counseling, although they are consistent with the Buddhist approach.
The difference between the first example and the others is significant. The Amita O’Toole website offers hands-on interactive counseling. The others are also therapeutic, but lack the benefit of immediate therapist-to-client interaction.
Online free Buddhist marriage counseling is available, though interactive marriage counseling is not plentiful in quantity. However, its value is not in the numbers, but in the quality.