Awakening to Awe

Existential therapy in action.

The Renewal of Humanism in Psychotherapy

A landmark discussion has just been published.

I'm delighted to announce that a long-awaited special section on "The Renewal of Humanism in Psychotherapy:  A Roundtable Discussion" is now available both online and in hardcopy in the APA journal Psychotherapy. More info on it can be obtained at the Division 29  Psychotherapy website: psycnet.apa.org Or see Robert Stolorow's blog on this website entitled "Humanism is Making a Comeback in Psychotherapy".

This special section is highlighted by the contributions of leading theorists across the therapeutic spectrum including Lillian Comas-Diaz (multicultural therapy), Dave Elkins (research and training), Bruce Wampold (research and training), Robert Stolorow (contemporary psychoanalysis), Steven Hayes (contemporary cognitive-behavioral therapy-ACT), Jurgen Kriz (contemporary humanistic practices in Europe), Alfried Langle and myself (co-editors of the section). 

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In my view this is a document of historic proportions that can and should be drawn on to show not only the viability of humanistic practice principles but the viability and indeed flourishing of those principles across diverse sectors of our profession.   Furthermore, the section should provide a basis for policy-makers both within the field of psychotherapy and without to seriously reconsider the prevailing trends toward technical prescribing in the theory, training, and application of therapeutic services.  My hope is that the section, highlighted by leading voices in the field, will provide a springboard for real reform (that is, "humanization") within the training, theory, and practice of the emerging generation of therapists. 

Below is the abstract for the introduction to the special section in the American Psychological Association (Division 29) journal Psychotherapy (vol. 49, no. 4) written by me and Alfried Langle.  For more information on the entire set of articles, please see the link to Psychotherapy above.

Abstract for "The Renewal of Humanism in Psychotherapy:  A Roundtable Discussion"

This special section highlights the renewal of humanism in psychotherapy.  For the purposes of this special section, humanism is defined as a philosophical perspective whose subject matter is the whole human being.  In psychotherapy, humanism places special emphasis on the personal, interpersonal, and contextual dimensions of therapy and on clients’ reflections on their relationship with self, others, and the larger psychosocial world. The contributors to this special section--Bruce Wampold, David Elkins, Steven Hayes, Robert Stolorow, Lillain Comas-Diaz, and the authors of this introduction--are each leaders in their respective therapeutic specialties:  research and training, cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, European therapy, and multicultural therapy.  In the fashion of a “round table,” each contributor was asked to provide a short article on the renewal of humanism in their respective specialty followed by brief comments on the initial round of articles. The conclusion of these reflections is that the renewal of humanism is a viable and growing phenomenon among the leading specialty areas of psychotherapy. The corollary conclusion is that although many theoretical and practical questions remain, humanism is (1) a foundational element of therapeutic effectiveness; (2) a pivotal  (and needed) dimension of therapeutic training; and (3) a critical contributor to societal well-being. 

Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and current editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

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