email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Maximizing Effectiveness in Dynamic Psychotherapy Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy101 Healing StoriesA Clinician's Guide to Legal Issues in PsychotherapyA Map of the MindA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyACT With LoveActive Treatment of DepressionAffect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of SelfAlready FreeBad TherapyBecoming an Effective PsychotherapistBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBetrayed as BoysBeyond Evidence-Based PsychotherapyBeyond MadnessBeyond PostmodernismBinge No MoreBiofeedback for the BrainBipolar DisorderBody PsychotherapyBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrain-Based Therapy with AdultsBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCase Studies in DepressionCaught in the NetChild and Adolescent Treatment for Social Work PracticeChoosing an Online TherapistChronic DepressionClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Intuition in PsychotherapyClinical Pearls of WisdomCo-Creating ChangeCognitive Therapy for Challenging ProblemsCompassionConfessions of a Former ChildConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConfidingContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsControlConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCoping with BPDCouch FictionCounseling in GenderlandCounseling with Choice TheoryCouple SkillsCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating HysteriaCritical Issues in PsychotherapyCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesDeafness In MindDecoding the Ethics CodeDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeep Brain StimulationDemystifying TherapyDepression 101Depression in ContextDialogues on DifferenceDissociative ChildrenDo-It-Yourself Eye Movement Techniques for Emotional HealingDoing CBTE-TherapyEarly WarningEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveErrant SelvesEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssentials of Wais-III AssessmentEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingExpectationExploring the Self through PhotographyExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFear of IntimacyFlourishingFolie a DeuxForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFrom Morality to Mental HealthFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGod & TherapyHalf Empty, Half FullHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHeinz KohutHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHigh RiskHistory of PsychotherapyHow Clients Make Therapy WorkHow People ChangeHow Psychotherapists DevelopHow to Fail As a TherapistHow to Go to TherapyHypnosis for Inner Conflict ResolutionHypnosis for Smoking CessationI Never Promised You a Rose GardenIf Only I Had KnownIn Others' EyesIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInside the SessionInside TherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsItís Your HourLearning from Our MistakesLearning Supportive PsychotherapyLetters to a Young TherapistLife CoachingLogotherapy and Existential AnalysisLove's ExecutionerMadness and DemocracyMaking the Big LeapMan's Search for MeaningMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMind GamesMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMoments of EngagementMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessMultifamily Groups in the Treatment of Severe Psychiatric DisordersNarrative PracticeOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOur Last Great IllusionOutsider ArtOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsOverexposedPathways to SpiritualityPersonality and PsychotherapyPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical Issues in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPillar of SaltPlan BPlato, Not Prozac!Polarities of ExperiencesPower GamesPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPsychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersPsychotherapy Is Worth ItPsychotherapy Isn't What You ThinkPsychotherapy with Adolescent Girls and Young WomenPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy without the SelfPsychotherapy, American Culture, and Social PolicyRapid Cognitive TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRebuilding Shattered LivesReclaiming Our ChildrenRecovery OptionsRelationalityRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologySecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf-Compassion in PsychotherapySelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSelf-Disclosure in Psychotherapy and RecoverySerious ShoppingSex, Therapy, and KidsSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySigns of SafetySoul Murder RevisitedStaring at the SunStraight to JesusStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyTales of UnknowingTalk is Not EnoughTalking Cures and Placebo EffectsTelling SecretsThe Behavioral Medicine Treatment PlannerThe Body in PsychotherapyThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Clinical Child Documentation SourcebookThe Clinical Documentation SourcebookThe Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Couch and the TreeThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Cure of SoulsThe Death of PsychotherapyThe Education of Mrs. BemisThe Ethical Treatment of DepressionThe Ethics of PsychoanalysisThe Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Gift of TherapyThe Great Psychotherapy Debate: The Evidence for What Makes Psychotherapy Work The Healing JourneyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Heroic ClientThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Love CureThe Making of a TherapistThe Mindful TherapistThe Mirror Crack'dThe Mummy at the Dining Room TableThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New Rational TherapyThe Older Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Other Side of DesireThe Pastoral Counseling Treatment PlannerThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Pornographer's GriefThe Portable CoachThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Problem of EvilThe Problem with Cognitive Behavioural TherapyThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy of HopeThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Schopenhauer CureThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Talking CureThe Therapeutic "Aha!"The Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Therapist's Ultimate Solution BookThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe Trouble with IllnessThe UnsayableThe Way of the JournalTheory and Practice of Brief TherapyTherapy with ChildrenTherapy's DelusionsTheraScribe 3.0 for WindowsTheraScribe 4.0Thinking about ThinkingThinking for CliniciansThinking for CliniciansThoughts Without a ThinkerThriveToward a Psychology of AwakeningTracking Mental Health OutcomesTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreating Attachment DisordersTreatment for Chronic DepressionTreatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety DisordersUnderstanding Child MolestersUnspeakable Truths and Happy EndingsWhat the Buddha FeltWhat Works for Whom?What Works for Whom? Second EditionWhen the Body SpeaksWhispers from the EastWise TherapyWittgenstein and PsychotherapyWorking MindsWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting About PatientsYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga Therapy
Since Lou Marinoff wrote his prominent book Plato Not Prozac Applying Philosophy to Everyday Problems, philosophy's role in counseling and psychotherapy has been a hot topic among philosophers. Peter Raabe, for example, in his recent book with the same title argued that "a philosophically trained counselor or therapist will be a much more capable helper to individuals suffering from emotional and cognitive distress than those whose training is predominantly in the medical approach of psychiatry or the scientific approach of psychology" (2014: 13).
Philosophical Issues in Counseling and Psychotherapy: Encounters With Four Questions About Knowing, Effectiveness and Truth seems to be yet another book to appear by a philosopher in the same tradition, but not quite so. James T. Hansen is a renowned counselor, who regards psychotherapy as an art, more akin to humanities than a science and consequently, takes his clients as struggling with understandable problems of living, not as disordered, sick, ill or deficient. As a counselor in the humanistic counseling tradition, he knows from his own experiences as a counselor, how hard is to operate in contemporary, technocratic and medicalized mental health culture and how, in such culture, a humanistically oriented counselor, whom he calls "displaced humanist", feels intellectually frustrated because clients are reduced to simple, technique responsive clusters of symptoms.
He wrote this book, in his own words, "as a philosophical analogue to books that are written about clinical cases, wherein authors bring their work to life by disclosing the personal and relational elements that animate the helping process" (Preface: x). With the aim of bringing depth and meaning into the counseling process, he overviews various justifications for philosophical inquiry in the helping professions. The heart of the book is four fundamental philosophical questions about knowing, effectiveness and truth that are designed to unite and give meaning to diverse and seemingly contradictory models of helping; each forming one chapter: 1) What does it mean to know a client? 2) What makes counseling effective? 3) Are truths discovered or created in the counseling relationship? 4) Should counselors abandon the idea of truth? Hansen follows the same structure in each chapter devoted to each question. First, he introduces the issue by noting the personal and professional significance of the topic, then he carefully and thoroughly considers the question and finally presents a discussion of pertinent issues and possible resolutions.
Throughout the discussion of these topics, he discloses many of his own experiences and intellectual struggles that made these topics important to him. Peppering these chapters with self-disclosures, including anecdotes and intellectual struggles to find meaning not only provides the reader with a rich, personal vantage point for appreciating and critiquing ideological positions he advocates, but also makes this book an engaging and highly enjoyable reading experience.
Before discussing philosophical issues, he begins the first chapter with a critical review of the history and current state of mental health culture, which provides an initial cultural frame to contextualize the ideas that are subsequently discussed in the following chapters. After reviewing biological, psychosocial, psychoanalytic and finally medical traditions in mental health culture, he gives a critique of contemporary mental health culture, which is guided by the medical model. He comes to the conclusion that operating within this technocratic, medicalized mental health culture can create tremendous conflicts for practitioners who want to make a living using treatment approaches that are nuanced, relational and based on well-established principles of psychology.
The second chapter, therefore, is devoted to the discussion of the importance of and the need for asking and introducing philosophical questions at this very medicalized mental health culture. His philosophical inquiry centers on the question that what it means to help someone; whether it is just getting rid of symptoms, or changing the psychological constitution of their clients. This main question line leads him into the four questions that forms each of the following chapters. By discussing those questions he primarily relies upon the ideas of Freud, who invented talking therapy and psychoanalysis, Carl Rogers, who is the leader of the humanistic movement in therapy, Thomas Szasz, who is a compelling critique of mainstream psychiatry and an intellectual anarchist and Richard Rorty, who is the founder of a new movement called neopragmatism by synthesizing American pragmatism with European postmodernism.
Chapter Three is the first question: What Does it Mean to Know a Client? He considers this question mainly through a discussion of psychoanalytic and humanistic point of view, since, as comprehensive theories of subjectivity, arguably they have the most complete and compelling answers to the question, "what does it mean to know a client?"
He then continues to investigate the second question, "what makes counseling effective?" in Chapter Four. First stating the personal and professional significance of this question for him, he comes to the conclusion that out of the four fundamental questions this is the most important to consider, because most of the times, the therapists and counselors seem to cling to their dogmatic ties or preconceived beliefs about counseling and forget about their obligation to promote effectiveness of their therapy rather than following a certain, predefined course of therapy.
Hansen believes that counseling is conversational engineering. He then steers to a route which is not conventionally thought as part of effective helping to the client, namely through conversation discovering some truths about the client. So, he devotes the next two chapters to the discussion about how possibly the truth be irrelevant. The fifth chapter is about whether truths are discovered or created in the counseling relationship. This is also related to the very touchy issue of whether it is even reasonable to suppose that counselors can ascertain certain truths about their clients; and also whether this distinction even matter. Hansen thinks that these questions are important to consider, particularly because traditional theories of counseling presume that healing depends on the ability of counselors to discover truths about their clients.
The following chapter, then draws upon the question of whether counselors should abandon the idea of truth altogether. As mentioned in the previous chapter, traditional orientations to counseling were founded upon the Western assumptions about truth and progress. Hansen argues that counselors can provide necessary and sufficient justifications for their interventions without appealing to the problem-ridden area of truth. Replacing discovered truth with ever-evolving justifications is arguably a vital attitudinal shift for professional helpers to make in order for the helping professions to advance to new levels of tolerance for diverse people, practices, and ideas.
The concluding chapter is titled, The Journey Continues. In this chapter, Hansen raises a new line of inquiry and investigates the possibility of structuring helping professions around his conclusions in the future.
In Philosophical Issues in Counseling and Psychotherapy: Encounters With Four Questions About Knowing, Effectiveness and Truth, James Hansen asks and proposes beginning resolutions to four fundamental questions about knowing, effectiveness and truth. Through exploring the intersection of philosophy, history, culture, power, language and theory, Hansen is able to weave a synthesis of logic that provides counselors, counselor educators and counselors-in-training with a unified view of helping that transcends conventional epistemology. I heartily recommend this book as essential reading for counselors, psychologists and social workers. This book should also be in the reading list of all theories of counseling courses.
© 2015 Kamuran Elbeyoğlu
Kamuran Elbeyoğlu (Ph.D), Toros University, School of Management and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Mersin, Turkey