Senior Psychiatrist, Sowa Rigpa mental counselling in Belgium.
Caroline Van Damme, M.D.

Caroline Van Damme is an adult psychiatrist and family and systemic psychotherapist, based in Belgium. She works at the “Brussels Night Hospital”, specialized in psychosocial rehabilitation for patients suffering from psychotic disorders. She shares the vision that human beings should be regarded in all their dimensions (biological, psychosocial, spiritual and ecological), rather than a purely medical dimension. Besides her clinical work, she also co-teaches the 2-year online "Sowa Rigpa Counselling Course" along with Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, a course designed to train students using traditional Sowa Rigpa and Buddhist approaches along with modern day psychological approaches to help people suffering from mental difficulties. She hopes to include traditional, nature-based and spiritual knowledge on mental health in a modern-day medical practice.

The Sowa Rigpa Counselling Course: A Novel Approach Integrating Sowa Rigpa and Buddhist Psychology with Contemporary Psychology in Counselling Practice

According to the WHO, 1 out of 8 people worldwide suffers from mental illness, and those numbers are on the rise. The Sowa Rigpa Counsellor Course started in January 2022, to train counsellors to accompany those who suffer from mental problems. It is a one-year online program, designed for all interested students who completed the Sowa Rigpa Foundations Course. This innovative course trains counsellors into the psychology of the human mind by integrating concepts from Sowa Rigpa and Buddhist psychology on the one hand, and contemporary psychology on the other. The course format is a dialogue between Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, a traditional Sowa Rigpa physician and Buddhist teacher and Dr. Caroline Van Damme, a western-trained psychiatrist and psychotherapist, thus facilitating a wide variety of approaches to mental health when accompanying people with mental struggles. We will discuss how the course originated, which subjects are covered, and how students are expected to integrate the concepts into their practice. Positive outcomes will be discussed, as well as challenges faced. It is our wish that this course will stimulate counsellors around the world to bring relief in mental suffering in their respective communities thanks to this holistic, yet scientifically rigorous training.