A DISCUSSION OF PHILOSOPHY AND PSYCHOTHERAPY I recently listened to a lecture in which the speaker said that every psychotherapist must be a philosopher. My colleague Dr. E., the most experienced therapist I have ever known, has expressed contempt for philosophical arguments in a number of talks I have had with him. I wondered what could be the basis of this attitude, and what his overall thinking might be on the significance of philosophy to our work as clinicians. So I decided to see if I could engage him in a conversation on the matter, recognizing I was once again placing myself at risk of getting beaten up by a very difficult old man. PART 1: METAPHYSICS – THE QUESTION OF THE ULTIMATELY REAL G.A. Good morning Dr. E. Today I want to see if I can get you to talk to me on a topic you usually try to avoid: the philosophical ideas that lie behind our work as psychotherapists. Why do you shy away from this sort of discussion? Dr. E. I am violently allergic to discussions that get lost in clouds of abstraction. If you try to draw me into such a thing, you may pay a heavy price, old friend. Philosophy itself, understood as a love of thinking, there is no problem with. We all need to think about what we are doing, and what our assumptions are. It is a challenge, however, for psychotherapists to find a productive way of discussing such matters. I will not embark upon a voyage into this realm with you, G.A., unless I have as my companion the story of a specific 1
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