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Vol 08, No 1, Article 02, PDF

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The autonomy of psychotherapy - Why psychotherapy can be subordinate neither to psychology nor psychiatry: Heward Wilkinson

Abstract: This paper is designed as a marker to re-emphasise the character of the field of psychotherapy as understood by the European Association of Psychotherapy, with respect to (1) the autonomy of the field of psychotherapy, especially in its non-subordinate relation to psychology and psychiatry, (2) its pluralism, and (3) its scientific character. The paper is organized around a discussion of the latter, and it is argued that psychotherapy is scientific in a broad, but not narrow ('hard', scientistic) sense of science, in terms of a model of 'science' which includes its wisdom component, its pluralism, and multiplicity, and its inherent relations to values. The question is put, in terms of a discussion of Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy, a form of cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy, whether this most apparently 'scientific' of branches of therapy is basically normative, and so does share the universal characteristic of psychotherapy as an emotional-evaluative activity and method. Psychotherapy, therefore, in the plurality of its methods, and broad model of 'science', embraces all 

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