March 1960

Communication of Values and Therapeutic Change

Author Affiliations

Bethesda, Md.
Present addresses: Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. (Dr. Goldstein); Nowlands & Company, Paris, France (Dr. Iflund).
National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

AMA Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;2(3):300-304. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.03590090056009

When one suggests that there may be an association between the concept of values and the practice of psychotherapy, the sensitive therapist generally reacts as though he were attacked—and generally he is right. The attack may come from one of two diametrically opposite directions: (1) the immorality gambit: he is immoral in that he tolerates, if not openly sanctions, socially disapproved behaviors; (2) the conformity ploy: the therapist is simply trying to make the patient conform to the standards and mores of the middle class. Underlying both allegations is the fear that the therapist will make the patient over in his own image. These attacks do violence to our cherished self-concepts of being enigmatic, nonjudgmental persons, whose own values are never permitted to intrude in the therapy.

Classically, when therapists have felt called upon to dissociate themselves from the question of values, they have fallen back

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