Facing Human Suffering: Psychology and Psychotherapy as Moral Engagement

Pages: 321
Item #: 4317043
ISBN: 978-1-59147-109-7
List Price: $19.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $19.95
Copyright: 2004
Format: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock
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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.

Table of Contents


  1. American Psychological Dissociation
  2. Suffering in Psychology
  3. The Moral Content of Theories of Clinical Practice
  4. Psychology and Science
  5. Clinical Knowledge
  6. Demonstrating Clinical Knowledge in the Case Study
  7. The Morally Engaged Clinical Psychologist: Recommendations on Education and Training

Appendix A. The Saint Michael's College Clinical Case Study Collection at Durrick Library

Appendix B. Recommended Classic Case Studies in Psychotherapy


Author Index

Subject Index

About the Author

Author Bio

Ronald B. Miller, PhD, received his bachelor of arts degree from Oberlin College in 1970 and his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Vermont in 1976. He was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in the Department of Moral Philosophy in 1970–1971 at the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland.

Dr. Miller has been on the faculty of Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont, since 1983 and is a professor of psychology there. Dr. Miller is also director of the master's program in clinical psychology at the college, a program that he helped found in 1983.

He is the editor of The Restoration of Dialogue: Readings in the Philosophy of Clinical Psychology (APA, 1992) and served as both a consulting and associate editor for the Encyclopedia of Psychology (APA & Oxford University Press, 2000) with responsibility for the coverage of the history and philosophy of psychology. For this and related work, Dr. Miller was awarded in 2001 the Distinguished Service Award of APA Division 24 (Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology).

Dr. Miller has maintained a private practice for over 25 years specializing in individual and couples therapy and school consultation. He is married to Naomi P. Shapiro, LCSW, who is a play therapist and a partner in the practice. They live in Shelburne, Vermont, with their two children, Ari and Maya Shapiro-Miller.