John Bolling is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and the founder of The Mandala Center Institute in Harlem, New York. He developed Soul-Centered Therapy and continues to educate and train people in the mission and technique of this unique spiritual approach to psychotherapy. Bolling received his medical degree from Howard University in 1966 and was a fellow at New York University-Bellevue Hospital Center, focusing on child psychiatry. He has continued to work in private practice, as well as serve at various mental health facilities over the past three decades. His soul centered psychotherapy is based on the self-awareness and self-perception of African American children and uses a soul-centered technique to incorporate spirituality into modern psychotherapy.
In 2001, Bolling and a former patient, Eric Westry, a Waterbury, Connecticut school counselor, were indicted for numerous counts of Medicaid fraud. Bolling was accused of carrying out an elaborate five year scheme, that defrauded the New York State Medicaid system of upwards of $50,000. The following year, Bolling pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud and was ordered to repay the state of New York $185,000. He continues to maintain his practice.
Contribution to Psychology
Soul-Centered Psychotherapy is based on the teachings of the Mandala culture and combines ethnic, cultural and spiritual methods into one effective model of psychotherapy that is centered on the “magic circle,” or soul. Bolling created this method of therapy as a complement to other Eurocentric methods that neglected to address the cultural issues that face people of various ethnic backgrounds. This form of therapy strives to identify and work through socio-cultural problems that reside within particular families, people, or communities. Soul-centered therapy is especially effective when certain segments of the population, who would otherwise not seek treatment, have been traumatized by conditions, disasters or experiences that are unique to their cultural climates. Soul-centered therapy allows diverse cultures to find and maintain a peer relationship with a therapist who is similar to them both socially and historically and can relate to their backgrounds on a personal level. The partnership is strengthened by this unique dynamic and provides an authentic environment in which the client can trust the therapist and work with them to heal and grow.