Whose tools for anxiety?

The more I familiarise myself with the various tools and techniques of different psychotherapies, the more I get the impression that these tools serve a calming function for the therapists as much as for the patients. It's scary, and anxiety-provoking, being the person allocated responsibility for reducing someone's emotional and psychological distress. As all clinicians … Continue reading Whose tools for anxiety?

Listening to Distress

In his paper ‘Managing distress over time in psychotherapy: guiding the client in and through intense emotional work,’ Peter Muntigl (2020) explores how difficult it can be to respond well to clients’ disclosures of distress in therapy, but he focuses on the distress as experienced by the client, rather than what reactions this might provoke … Continue reading Listening to Distress

Mysterious Pain

‘Just try – in a real case – to doubt someone else’s fear or pain!’(303. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations) Recently I’ve been bothered by a few mysterious and troublesome physical health problems, which has meant lots of doctor’s calls and appointments, but with little clarification. Luckily, my problem is minor, and its main annoyance is … Continue reading Mysterious Pain

‘Epistemic Injustice’ in Therapy?

Most of the time I spend scrolling through Twitter is probably time I won't ever get back, but the other day I 'overheard' an interesting conversation between two academics on what one said was psychological therapy's primary aim: constructing a sense of dignity, and the other academic voicing the opinion that in fact, therapy often … Continue reading ‘Epistemic Injustice’ in Therapy?

Louis Sass on Wittgenstein and Freud

[This blog captures my initial thoughts while reading Louis Sass's chapter in Wittgenstein, Theory and the Arts (eds. R. Allen & M. Turvey), titled: 'Wittgenstein, Freud, and the Nature of Psychoanalytic Explanation'. The bracketed page numbers are from that book.] Louis Sass begins by acknowledging the complex relationship Wittgenstein seemed to have with Freud and … Continue reading Louis Sass on Wittgenstein and Freud

Michael Polanyi on the Arts

I have recently become interested in how the scientist-turned-philosopher Michael Polanyi’s understanding of the arts can help us theorize how creating or appreciating the arts has a role to play in clinical psychology, in particular psychoanalytic or psychodynamic approaches. In his 1958 book Personal Knowledge, as he leads up to a discussion of ‘indwelling’, Polanyi … Continue reading Michael Polanyi on the Arts

A Common Criticism of CBT

Some critics of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have focussed their attack on its underlying theoretical assumption that our 'beliefs' cause mental distress. That's a pretty easy target, though, once you look at the correlations between factors like poverty, abuse, systemic oppression; and mental distress - in those cases, would you really call their thinking 'faulty' … Continue reading A Common Criticism of CBT