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October 2021

'Limits to therapy and counselling': deconstructing a professional ideology

Journal/Book: Brit J Guid Couns. 1999; 27: Rankine Rd, Basingstoke Rg24 8Pr, Hants, England. Carfax Publishing. 377-392.

Abstract: The rapidity with which therapy, as discourse and as clinical-professional practice, has become established in contemporary culture is subjected to a searching deconstructive critique. Specifically, it is argued that therapy's pretensions to being a legitimate professional, clinical practice are not only highly questionable, but actually constitute a self-serving and ethically questionable ideology. The 'scientific' status of therapy as a modernist enterprise is argued to be fundamentally undermined by new-paradigm epistemologies. It is further argued that, in its professionalised, commodified form, therapy can become routinely and intrinsically abusive to the extent that it self-fulfillingly constructs a framework which then serves to guarantee its own legitimacy within a discursive 'regime of truth'. Parker's important work on discourse and power is drawn upon to illustrate these radical arguments, and to make the case for an approach to therapy which is ongoingly and processually deconstructive of its 'professional' ideologies and clinical practices, if the binds of dangers outlined are to be avoided. Such deconstruction would also include an ongoing and explicit interrogation of 'therapy' as an historically specific, evolving and, it is submitted, transitory cultural practice. Deep and honest ethical reflection is needed on the nature of therapy, and on the possibility of developing more healthily appropriate socio-cultural forms for helping people with their 'difficulties of living'.

Note: Article House R, Magdalen Med Practice, Lawson Rd, Norwich NR3 4LF, Norfolk, ENGLAND

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