Zentensive Workshop and Retreats

are for those who feel drawn to exploring the rich intersection of meditation and western psychology. They offer advanced levels of training for mental health professionals interested in accessing deeper unconscious patterns, as well as for dharma practitioners who may wish to discover a greater understanding of the more hidden dimensions of the psyche.

These trainings take advantage of the natural deepening and openness that comes about as the mind quiets down – and merges this inner silence with a strong psychodynamic perspective. Intensive periods of meditation effectively mobilize the mind on both conscious and unconscious levels. This mobilization works broadly – bringing forth a complex mixture of our innate care and compassion, along with the often hidden layers of grief, guilt, intimacy, and anger.

As practice continues to deepen, we may see more clearly into those repression-based patterns of thinking and feeling that so often cycle through our lives, and inevitably exert a powerful impact on all that we do. Insights into these embedded energies can lead to significant change, which in turn fosters more focused and sustained meditation. This can be rich territory for all practitioners, and for psychotherapists, these insights and openings can have particular value in terms of their work with clients.

The Washington School of Psychiatry has approved the Three-Day Zentensives for 18 CE/CMEs , including 2 for ethics, and the Five-Day Zentensives have been approved for 30 CE/CMEs, including 2 for ethics. Credits are applicable to all mental health professionals including social workers, LPCs, nurses, psychologists, and doctors. (see below)

Three-Day Zentensive Workshops

Three-Day Zentensives® provide a solid foundation for drawing together the psychodynamic and the meditative into a unified experience. They cover a range of meditation practices, and explore ways these relate to a dynamic metapsychology of the unconscious. This approach is grounded not only in strong, evidence-based research, but also on decades of actual training and practice.

Three-Day Zentensives® are held at various locations around the country.  Want to join?  Sign up for updates.

Five-Day Zentensive Workshop and Retreat: April 15 - 20

Five-Day Zentensives Retreats® go further, and offer a more experiential exploration of the subtleties of the dynamic unconscious. Insights that arise during a longer Zentensive are sometimes unexpectedly powerful: the more thoroughly we see into the repressive mechanisms, the more directly we may experience the underlying feelings. Further, our more characterologically-based defenses may echo back to those earliest years when the sense of self was in its formative stages. Uprooting these entrenched defenses is no easy matter, but doing so can lead to profoundly freeing and transformative experiences. This is working on the edge, and it calls for some delicacy.

Much of the ongoing process of working through these issues is naturally guided not only by the structure of the training itself, but also by what might be called a person’s own ‘informed intuition’. We are undoubtedly our own best guides and teachers, and as the mind quiets down we naturally become more sensitive to this inner wisdom. This healing energy, along with the collective support that arises out of the group effort, can facilitate significant kinds of openings. During the five-day retreats, whatever arises in the course of meditation can also be dealt with in dokusan—the confidential, one-on-one meetings with the teacher.

Dokusan is not intended to be an alternative form of psychotherapy, though clearly, therapeutic benefits may arise. What happens in dokusan is always guided by how each person wants to use the time, and at what level they wish to work. This is not to say that spontaneous unlockings, and even awakening experiences, aren’t possible—they may come about at any time, but the primary function of dokusan is to help facilitate the clarification and deepening of a person’s spiritual practice.

With Zen training, the intent is to experience the moment-to-moment fluidity of our life as fully and deeply as possible. During a Zentensive this is as true for feelings as for any other experience. Because intensive practices mobilize the unconscious, and the focus during a Zentensive includes a disciplined awareness of the workings of the psyche, the whole dynamic system of feelings and defenses is often very present. Drawing a line between spirituality and psychotherapy is not always easy, but clearly the ultimate goal of each discipline is to awaken the heart of compassion – an experiential truth that transcends all such distinctions.

Five-Day Zentensives® are held at Windhorse Zen Community in Asheville, NC.  Want to join?  

Registration Information Here

Individual Zentensives / Block Psychotherapy

As a final note, Lawson is sometimes able to schedule non-accredited Individual Zentensives which consist of periods of self-directed practice coupled with several hours of one-on-one work each day. Likewise, he is also occasionally able to schedule “block” therapy sessions. These concentrated formats usually last between 3 and 5 days -- for more information please contact Lawson directly at LawsonSachter@gmail.com.

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Notes about Accreditation

Continuing Education Credits for these Zentensives have been approved by the Washington School of Psychiatry. For those interested in CEs, please read the following:

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Continuing Education Credits for these Zentensives have been approved by The Washington School of Psychiatry. For those interested in CEs, please read the following:

The Washington School of Psychiatry is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  The Washington School maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

The School is approved by the Social Work Board of the State of Maryland as a provider of continuing education for social workers in DC, MD, VA and WV.

The School is accredited by MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The School designates the program for a maximum of 30 AMA PRA Category I Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure of Commercial Support and the Unlabeled use of a commercial product. No member of the planning committee and no member of the faculty for this event have a financial interest or other relationship with any commercial product.

The Washington School of Psychiatry is an independent non-profit organization. It is not affiliated with the government of the District of Columbia or the government of the United States.