Article Title

The frustrations of virtue: The myth of moral neutrality in psychotherapy


This article questions a number of widely held views of the role of values in psychotherapy. It begins with a discussion of the now largely discredited view that psychotherapy can be value free. It also broadens this challenge to question the popular idea that values form an inescapable part of the therapeutic encounter. While this view is correct in outline, it is necessary to reject the underlying conception of values as largely arbitrary preferences that the client and the therapist bring to the encounter, as this fails to do justice to the inherently ethical nature of psychotherapy. It argues that we should recover the Greek notion of therapy as essentially concerned with the character of a person. In other words, the goal of therapy is virtue.


Aristotle, psychotherapy, stoicism, values, value freedom, virtue

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