Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy
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Why should modern psychotherapists be interested in philosophy, especially ancient philosophy? Why should philosophers be interested in psychotherapy? There is a sense of mutual attraction between what are today two thoroughly distinct disciplines. However, arguably it was not always the case that they were distinct.
Donald Robertson, the author, takes the view that by reconsidering the generally received wisdom concerning the history of these closely-related subjects, we can learn a great deal about both philosophy and psychotherapy, under which heading he includes potentially solitary pursuits such as “self-help” and “personal development”.
“The philosopher’s school”, said Epictetus, “is a doctor’s clinic.” The Philosophy of CBT is the first comprehensive review of the relationship between modern cognitive-behavioural therapies and classical philosophy. The founders of cognitive therapy and REBT, Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis, both refer to Stoicism in particular as the main precursor of the modern cognitive approach. This book elaborates in detail upon the historical relationship between different schools of ancient philosophy and modern psychotherapy. It places particular emphasis on the specific therapeutic strategies and techniques employed in Stoicism and other Hellenistic philosophies and explores the potential for integrating them within modern psychological therapies. For example, the central principle of Stoicism was that emotional disturbance is linked to placing excessive value upon things outside of our direct control while neglecting things we can more easily change, especially our cognitions and behaviour. Visualisation techniques such as “The View from Above” and Stoic mindfulness practices are explained as part of a “forgotten” armamentarium of therapeutic methods. The author argues that certain aspects of these ancient schools of philosophical psychotherapy may well deserve to be rehabilitated within the modern psychotherapeutic framework. This book opens up a new forum for dialogue between philosophers and psychotherapists, focusing on the practical dimension of Socratic philosophy and its relationship with the cognitive-behavioural tradition.