Zen practice: a training method to enhance the skills of clinical social workers.

Author: Brenner MJ.
Affiliation: Department of Social Work, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, USA.
Conference/Journal: Soc Work Health Care.
Date published: 2009 May
Other: Volume ID: 48 , Issue ID: 4 , Pages: 462-70 , Word Count: 141

The use of Zen Buddhist meditation in clinical practice has received specific attention from mental health disciplines in the West. A study was undertaken to examine the influence of a personal practice of Zen on the professional work of clinical social workers. Ten experienced clinical social workers who were long-term Zen practitioners were interviewed. Findings from this qualitative study suggest that Zen meditation has direct application to clinical social work in three areas: (1) cultivating Awareness, (2) enhancing Acceptance, and (3) nurturing Responsibility. This article reports on the findings in the area of Awareness. Awareness increases a social worker\'s focus on the present moment with the client, providing for a suspension of preconceived ideas about the client. Building on the view that social work is both art and science, the author proposes the use of Zen in the training of clinical social workers.