Philosophy of Psychotherapy Conference
This is news of an exciting conference to be held next year at the
University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, 8 - 11 July 2011. The UEA
Centre for Counselling Studies is arranging this conference in association
with our School of Philosophy. We are aiming to bring together focusing
people, people who are interested in Gene Gendlin's philosophy, and
philosophers and therapists from other traditions. We hope in this way to
make Gene's philosophy of psychotherapy more widely known, and to make it
more a part of mainstream philosophical discussion.
Full details and an application form are on our conference website at:
Amongst the philosophers whom Gene has written about is Ludwig Wittgenstein
(see Gene's article 'What happens when Wittgenstein asks "What happens
when...?" ' in the Philosophical Forum (1997|), and in the Gendlin On-Line
Library). In order to create a more focused discussion, and because of the
main orientation of the School of Philosophy, we are looking especially at
resonances between Gene's work and that of Wittgenstein, but presentations
from within other traditions are very welcome.
Our three keynote speakers are
Peter Hacker (University of Oxford) who is a world-renowned philosopher in
the tradition of Wittgenstein. His book 'Philosophical Foundations of
Neuroscience' is a brilliant critique of the difficulties involved in
relating neuroscience to our ordinary ways of talking about human
Hans Schneider (University of Potsdam) is a philosopher living in Berlin who
is very familiar with Gene's work and is a contributor to the book on Gene's
philosophy, 'Language Beyond Postmodernism'. He also has a fascinating
article on Wittgenstein and William James in our earlier conference book
'Spirituality and Counselling: Experiential and Theoretical Perspectives'.
John Heaton (Philadelphia Institute, London) was a colleague of the
existentialist therapist R D Laing, and is in private practice in London as
a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. He is a regular lecturer at Regent's
College, London and at Roehampton University. He is a founder member of the
Guild of Psychotherapists and was editor of Journal for Existential Analysis
for seven years. His books include: 'Introducing Wittgenstein',
'Wittgenstein and Psychoanalysis' and his most recent book, 'The Talking
Cure: Wittgenstein's Therapeutic Method for Psychotherapy'
The conference theme, as sent to the philosophy Lists, is the following -
but we also have our 'hidden agenda' of getting Gene's work more widely
The nature of psychotherapy is in many ways problematical. Current
proposals for the statutory regulation of the field in the UK and other
countries have led to much discussion of the nature of the discipline, for
example about whether it can be subsumed under a 'medical model', or
whether approaches should be primarily cognitive or experiential.
Some of the issues involved are of an empirical nature, but others raise
conceptual and philosophical issues. Research in the area has tended to
concentrate on empirical issues of process and outcome, but psychotherapy
inevitably works with contested notions such as those of consciousness,
mental illness, delusion, diagnosis and so on. Further, in the development
of psychotherapy theory technical or semi-technical concepts such as those
of 'the unconscious', 'experiencing level', 'cognition', 'information',
'archetype', 'self-concept' have evolved, whose relationships to the
concepts of everyday language and clinical practice are not always clear.
The purpose of this conference is to bring together philosophers who are
interested in psychotherapy with psychotherapists and psychotherapy
researchers who are interested in the philosophical foundations of their
field. We would encourage participants to explain technical terminology and
generally present their work so that the more philosophically-oriented
papers are accessible to psychotherapists, and the more
psychotherapeutically-oriented papers are comprehensible to philosophers.
We welcome contributions from practitioners in any approach to philosophy or
psychotherapy. The Centre for Counselling Studies at UEA has been especially
involved with the traditions of Focusing-Oriented and Person-Centred
therapies, and the School of Philosophy has a strong interest in the
philosophy of Wittgenstein. Contributions relating to these areas of
interest would be especially welcome.
If you are interested in Gene's philosophical work - please do come!
University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, 8 - 11 July 2011