Facing Human Suffering: Psychology and Psychotherapy as Moral Engagement
In this thought-provoking book, Ronald B. Miller contends that we seek psychotherapy to relieve not our symptoms but our suffering. For those who practice clinical psychology, therapy is thus a moral undertaking. Yet for historical reasons, psychological science has, in the author's view, become a de-moralized realm of theory and research, with limited relevance to practice.
As frustrated graduates of clinical psychology programs often come to realize, scientific knowledge is not, in and of itself, a satisfactory preparation for clinical work. The greatest strength of scientific knowledge, its combination of abstract principles and objective data, becomes in the clinical realm also its greatest weakness. One can know the research cold and still be unprepared for a useful clinical interaction with a troubled person.
In a broad, multidisciplinary review of the literature, Miller argues that there is an urgent need for a learning process that helps prepare students to understand the intrinsically moral nature of therapeutic encounters and to cultivate the clinical knowledge that is produced by such work. He proposes that the clinical case-study is the optimal vehicle for communicating clinical knowledge and conducting clinical research. While case studies are frequently derided as being of limited applicability, Miller shows how, by following a quasi-judicial method, "case law" and reliable principles of practice can be developed.
Designed for the undergraduate, graduate student, or professional psychologist who has become disenchanted with the limitations of experimental and quantitative approach to psychology, this compassionate book provides answers for those who seek a legitimate alternative.