Sitting Together

Essential Skills for Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy

Susan M. Pollak, Thomas Pedulla, and Ronald D. Siegel

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
February 26, 2014
ISBN 9781462513987
Price: $76.00 $57.00
240 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
July 29, 2016
ISBN 9781462527731
Price: $26.00 $19.50
240 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
February 26, 2014
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $26.00 $19.50
240 Pages
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $52.00 $28.60
240 Pages
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This practical guide helps therapists from virtually any specialty or theoretical orientation choose and adapt mindfulness practices most likely to be effective with particular patients, while avoiding those that are contraindicated. The authors provide a wide range of meditations that build the core skills of focused attention, mindfulness, and compassionate acceptance. Vivid clinical examples show how to weave the practices into therapy, tailor them to each patient's needs, and overcome obstacles. Therapists also learn how developing their own mindfulness practice can enhance therapeutic relationships and personal well-being. The Appendix offers recommendations for working with specific clinical problems. Free audio downloads (narrated by the authors) and accompanying patient handouts for selected meditations from the book are available at

See also Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, Second Edition, edited by Christopher K. Germer, Ronald D. Siegel, and Paul R. Fulton, which reviews the research on therapeutic applications of mindfulness and delves into treatment of specific clinical problems.

“The authors have both a firm grasp on mindfulness and important insight into the therapeutic process. Their book is full of clinical examples as well as detailed directions on how to use mindfulness in different therapeutic situations with different kinds of patients. If you are a therapist interested in incorporating mindfulness into your own life or into the work you do with patients, I highly recommend this thorough, thoughtful book.”

Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life

“The authors…all psychotherapists and longtime mediators, manage to be sensible and inspirational at the same time. It’s like levitating by sitting still. There are illustrations of several casesand one breathtaking example of a long and complex trauma treatment….[E]ach stage of treatment was personalized with a theoretical frame and with exercises. Free downloads and handouts are available at the end of Sitting Together, heartfelt signs of a desire to help.”

Harvard Medicine Magazine

“An excellent guide, filled with skillful means and wise understanding.”

—Jack Kornfield, PhD, author of A Path with Heart

“Truly impressive—a much-needed exploration of the multifaceted role that mindfulness meditation can play in optimizing psychotherapeutic practice. The book features a generous selection of practices, including rationales, handouts, and audio downloads. It provides both novices and experts with surefooted guidance for increasing mindful awareness in ways that are best suited to clients' needs.”

—Zindel V. Segal, PhD, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Toronto–Scarborough, Canada

“This comprehensive and beautifully organized book reveals the clinical expertise and human wisdom of its authors. With its treasure trove of meditations, case studies, and teachings, Sitting Together will be a cherished book for any therapist seeking to bring mindfulness alive in therapeutic work.”

—Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge

“A useful technical guide for therapists interested in incorporating the skills of mindfulness meditation into their practice. The book is filled with practical meditation exercises, explained in a clear and engaging style. But these exercises are not for the patient only, as is usual in treatment manuals; rather, they are offered equally to the therapist. Sitting Together invites the therapist to develop, through mindfulness, those qualities common to all gifted practitioners: accurate attention, caring without judgment, compassion, and wisdom.”

—Judith Lewis Herman, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

“The authors combine clinical expertise and deep personal experience with mindfulness to offer a very effective book that is well referenced and full of practical case examples. This clearly written, genuinely profound and heartfelt book will serve all therapists interested in the power of mindful presence for themselves as well as their clients. It will also be useful as a seminar text or training manual.”

—Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Hardwiring Happiness

Sitting Together is an extraordinary achievement and an outstanding resource for introducing mindfulness into psychotherapy. The exercises are simple, powerful, and supported by clinical research. Most important, they help therapists and clients cultivate compassion for self and others. Practicing the skills in this book encourages the wise mind and good heart of both therapist and client to emerge. Destined to become a classic in the field.”

—Joan Borysenko, PhD, author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind

“I have been teaching a graduate-level course in mindfulness-based interventions for more than a decade, and have long sought a book that would help students broaden and deepen the skills they were learning. This is the text I have been looking for. It provides an in-depth yet accessible introduction to integrating mindfulness interventions into individual psychotherapy. While an excellent introduction to the topic, it also provides plenty of food for thought for experienced practitioners. I recommend this text for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in counseling and psychotherapy, as well as for practicing professionals interested in mindfulness-based interventions.”

—James B. Lane, PhD, School of Professional Psychology, College of Health Professions, Pacific University

Table of Contents

1. Bringing Mindfulness into Psychotherapy

2. Becoming a Mindful Therapist

3. Cultivating Mindfulness in the Therapeutic Relationship

4. Concentration Practice: Focusing the Mind

5. Open Monitoring: Expanding the Mind

6. Loving-Kindness and Compassion Practice: Engaging the Heart

7. Equanimity Practice: Finding Balance

8. Making Mindfulness Accessible

9. The Art of Sequencing

10. Beyond Symptom Relief: Deepening Mindfulness

Appendix. Selecting Practices


About the Authors

Susan M. Pollak, MTS, EdD, is cofounder and senior teacher at the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance, where she has supervised and taught since the mid-1990s. She is past president of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy and a psychologist in private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A longtime student of meditation and yoga, Dr. Pollak teaches about mindfulness, compassion, and self-compassion in psychotherapy and has been integrating the practices of meditation into psychotherapy since the 1980s. She is author of Self-Compassion for Parents (for general readers) and coauthor of Sitting Together: Essential Skills for Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy (for mental health professionals).

Thomas Pedulla, LICSW, is a clinical social worker and psychotherapist in private practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, where he works with individuals and leads mindfulness-based cognitive therapy groups. A faculty and board member at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy since 2007, Mr. Pedulla has also served on the board of the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center and has been a practitioner of meditation in the vipassana tradition since the 1980s.

Ronald D. Siegel, PsyD, is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, part time, at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance, where he has taught since the early 1980s. He is a longtime student of mindfulness meditation and is a faculty and board member at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. Dr. Siegel teaches internationally about mindfulness and psychotherapy and mind–body treatment, while maintaining a private practice in Lincoln, Massachusetts. His books include The Mindfulness Solution, Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy, and Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, Second Edition.


Mental health practitioners, including clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, counselors, and psychiatric nurses.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses.