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December 27, 1995

Soul Searching: Why Psychotherapy Must Promote Moral Responsibility

Author Affiliations

University of Illinois at Chicago

JAMA. 1995;274(24):1968-1969. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530240078049

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


What is going on here? I am asked to review a book on modern psychotherapy practice, and it contains a value-laden, almost foreign language. Words such as fairness, truthfulness, moral responsibility, moral character, courage, commitment, caring, community, prudence, and justice are found throughout. The author of such nonneutral syntax is a practicing family psychotherapist and academician whose purposes are to examine morality in psychotherapy practice and to emphasize the need for understanding the moral stance of a therapist.

The author traces the history of psychotherapy through the present. He points out how the practice has changed and is undergoing a significant crisis of skepticism, confidence, and funding. He suggests that such developments are due in part to two factors. One is an erosion of the moral center of mainstream culture. The second is a growing recognition of psychotherapy practice as an extension of white, middle-class, North American male culture.


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