Psychotherapy and Philosophy

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What can philosophy tell us about therapy?  There are many opportunities for dialogue between philosophers and psychotherapists.  In the past, there’s been interest in the potential relevance of phenomenology, existentialism, and other continental philosophies, particularly for psychodynamic and insight-oriented therapies.  However, there’s been a growing interest in the practical side of ancient philosophy over recent decades, particularly in the philosophy of Stoicism.  Why ancient philosophy?  Isn’t it a bit, well, dated?  The curious fact is that originally philosophy was very much a practical concern.  Most of the ancient schools of Western philosophy were about as concerned with one’s lifestyle and the use of contemplative exercises as Oriental traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism were.  However, in the West, this practical tradition of philosophy as “care of the soul”, was virtually extinguished when the ancient philosophical schools were closed and their books destroyed, something partly due to the growing dominance of Christianity and its opposition to pagan philosophy.

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