Deconstructing theory: Towards an ethical therapy

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Journal Article
Theory and Psychology, 2011, 21 (6), pp. 821 - 839
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Over the last two decades theorists and therapists have explored and consolidated discursive and relational approaches to therapy based on social constructionist, dialogic, and narrative thinking. Meanwhile in mainstream psychology and psychiatry a modern scientific-realist epistemology prevails. While these two paradigms are diametrically opposed in theory, they are often required to be juxtaposed in practice, especially for therapists working in mainstream mental health services. The paper addresses this theory and practice dilemma of how therapists can work in both therapy paradigms at once. This is illustrated by practice examples, including teaching relational therapy to psychologists trained as scientist practitioners and applying integrative family therapy with depressed and suicidal adolescents. Drawing on Derrida and Levinas I present an ethical practice model called paramodern therapy. By deconstructing theory an ethical and integrative therapy is possible, one which engages with modern approaches while taking on board discursive, narrative, or social constructionist metaphors.
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