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Social Responsibility and Psychotherapy

How should psychotherapy relate to the nature and values of contemporary society? What is the social responsibility of a therapist in our modern world? Should their concerns move beyond that of indivdiual patients to the institutions in which people work and the political systems in which they are embedded? How well does the theraputic model apply to institutions? Is real social change possible? Can therapy offer spiritual solutions to people adrift in a society that appears, to them at least, to be devoid of meaning and value?

And what of the role of individual therapists? How are they acknowleged by society? How effective are their ethical norms and how well are they supported by their professional associations?

Over the past years these questions have concerned both myself and the many therapists I have spoken to. I am told that there is a reluctance, on the part of professional organizations, to confront such questions in an open and honest way, a state of affairs that can lead to a sense of isolation or marginalization on the part of some therapists.

For this reason I am proposing a small roundtable meeting to be held in Pari, 2001. (As a preliminary to this we may be holding an, unfunded, one-day meeting some time in 2000.) At the moment no dates or funding for the larger meeting have been arranged. At this stage I would like to hear from professionals, and others with a particular interest in this topic.

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Contact F. David Peat