Philosophy and Theories of Counseling Psychology

Philosophy and Theories of Counseling Psychology

CPSE 702


Philosophy and Theories of Counseling Psychology

CPSE 702

Fall 2010

Aaron P. Jackson O 422-8031

340-J MCKBC 636-3745

Office Hours: M 9-10, W 9-10, and by appt.

Course Objectives

  1. Strengthen understanding of philosophical constructs and their application to counseling psychology.
  2. Develop an integrated philosophy of science and practice.
  3. Become familiar with the history and philosophy of counseling psychology.
  4. Learn and apply a metatheoretical approach to critically analyzing theories of personality and treatment.
  5. Understand the implications of one’s philosophy and theory for multicultural issues in counseling.
  6. Improve scholarly writing skills.
  7. Improve academic presentation skills.

Tentative Schedule

Date Topic Readings Assignment Due

8-30Introductions, Syllabus, Philosophy

9-1Idols; Levels; AxiologySlife (1999); Mintz, et al. (in press)

9-8The Nature of LawFischer; Yanchar & Smith (2005)

9-13I Haven’t A ClueI Haven’t a Clue

9-15Suffering & PainGantt; Gleave (2005)

9-20 Human AgencyJudd; Williams (2005)

9-22The Nature of TruthRichards; Slife & Reber (2005)

9-27Human IdentitySmith & Draper; Moss (2005)

9-29Theory PresentationAssigned Reading

10-4Theory PresentationAssigned Reading

10-6Theory PresentationAssigned Reading

10-11Theory PresentationAssigned Reading

10-13Theory PresentationAssigned Reading

10-18Theory PresentationAssigned Reading

10-20RelationismJackson (2005)

10-25Midterm Exam

10-27Review 1st Draft of Integration PaperIntegration Paper

11-1Philosophy Presentation

11-3Philosophy Presentation

11-8Philosophy Presentation

11-10Philosophy Presentation

11-15Philosophy Presentation

11-17Review 2nd Draft of Integration Paper

11-22Philosophy Presentation

11-24No Class—Thanksgiving Break

11-29Book Review—missed booksProgram Proposal

12-1Values & TheoryMorrow, 2000

12-6Book Review—missed books

12-8Agency & TheoryWilliams, 1992Integration Paper

12-1511:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.Final Exam


There are three types of readings for the course. You will be asked to report on the timeliness and thoroughness of your reading—i.e., did you read the whole thing and did you read it on time? Your report will be considered in assigning grades.

  1. Assigned readings—most of the readings during the first few weeks of class come from Turning Freud Upside Down (Jackson & Fischer, 2005), the only required text for the class. A few other readings are listed on the schedule. These will be made available to you.

Jackson, A. P., & Fischer, L. (2005). Turning Freud upside down. Provo, UT: BYU Press.

  1. Psychotherapy Theory Readings—each of you will make a presentation and lead a discussion on a theorist of your choice. Your preparation for the discussion will include reading at least one original work (book) by the theorist and preparing a summary of key concepts, quotes, etc. for the rest of the class. A good foundational reference for this assignment is Personality and psychotherapy, Joseph Rychlak
  1. Philosophical Readings—select a philosophical work from the list below, or another work that you and I agree upon. Read the book and prepare an engaging presentation for the class on the key concepts in the book and their implications for counseling psychology in general and your work as a counseling psychologist in particular. (A good foundational resource for this assignment is What’s behind the research, Brent Slife & Richard Williams)

Philosophical Readings

The triumph of the therapeutic, Phillip Rieff

The great psychotherapy debate, Bruce Wampold

I and thou, Martin Buber

Beyond freedom and dignity, B.F. Skinner

Critical issues in psychotherapy, Slife, Williams, & Barlow

Otherwise than being, Immanuel Levinas

Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a world of strangers, Kwame Anthony Appiah

Psychology for the other, Gantt & Williams

Witnessing: Beyond recognition, Kelly Oliver

The question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud debate God, love, sex, and the meaning of life, A. M. Nicholi

Critical thinking about psychology, Slife, Reber, & Richardson

Truth and method, Hans-Georg Gadamer

Psychology and the question of agency, Martin, Sugarman, & Thompson

Ethics and values in psychotherapy, A.C. Tjeltveit

Toward a philosophy of the act, Mikhail Bakhtin

Constructing the self, constructing America, Philip Cushman

Re-envisioning psychology, Richardson, Fowers, & Guignon

Relational Being, Kenneth Gergen

Virtue and Psychology, Blaine Fowers

(Other possible philosophical readings are attached to this syllabus)


I Haven’t A Clue Paper—Write a brief paper defining a philosophical term with which you are unfamiliar. Define the term citing appropriate sources. Demonstrate how the term is used by applying it to issues in counseling psychology. (50 points)

Theory Discussion—Lead a discussion of a theorist of your choice. Use the Levels of Explanation model as a metatheory to discuss the theory. Read at least one original work by the theorist and prepare a summary of key concepts and quotes for the rest of the class. If available, you might include a video demonstration of counseling according to the theory. Distribute the summary readings prior to the day you lead the discussion. The discussion should include (1) the basic tenets of the theory, (2) the philosophical assumptions of the theory—both personality theory and treatment theory, and (3) an analysis of the degree to which the theory is compatible with Christian and other theistic philosophies. The presentation will be graded for content, effectiveness, and style. (100 points)

Philosophy Book Presentation—read one of the philosophical works on the list above and prepare a presentation for the class on the key points in the book and their implications for counseling psychology. Write a summary of key concepts and distribute it to the class prior to your presentation. The presentation will be graded for content, effectiveness, and style. (100 points)

Integration Paper—Write a final paper that addresses one of the following questions—(1) What do you see as the key philosophical/theoretical issues facing counseling psychologists today and what needs to be done to address those issues?, or (2) How have you integrated your professional philosophy with your theology? Illustrate this integration through an axiological analysis of both. (100 points)

Program Proposal Participation— Work with your research team or on your own to author or co-author a proposal for the APA Convention or some other professional meeting. Turn in a copy of the proposal and the cover sheet. (100 points)

Tests—A midterm and final exam will be given. The test will include both multiple choice and short essay questions taken from the readings, discussions, and presentations. (50 points each)

All written work should conform to the APA Publication Manual (5th ed.) standards.

Attendance at class is expected and considered when assigning grades.

Honor Code Standards

In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic work. Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own work and not that of another. Violations of this principle may result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university.

It is the university’s expectation that each student will abide by all Honor Code standards. Please call the Honor Code Office at 422-2847 if you have questions about those standards.

Preventing Sexual Discrimination or Harassment

Sexual discrimination or harassment (including student-to-student harassment) is prohibited both by the law and by Brigham Young University policy. If you feel you are being subjected to sexual discrimination or harassment, please bring your concerns to your professor. Alternatively, you may lodge a complaint with the Equal Employment Office (D-240C ASB) or with the Honor Code Office (4440).

Students with Disabilities

If you have a disability that may affect your performance in this course, you should get in touch with the office of Services for Students with Disabilities (1520 WSC). This office can evaluate your disability and assist me in arranging for reasonable accommodations. Please let me know of any accommodations you may need for disabilities or special circumstances.

Additional possibilities for the philosophy reading

E. L. Hersch, _From Philosophy to Psychotherapy: A Phenomenological

Model for Psychology, Psychiatry, and Psychoanalysis_.


Sigmund Koch, _Psychology in Human Context_.

Hans Georg Gadamer, _Philosophical Hermeneutics_.


L. Irigaray. To be Two.

M. Merleau-Ponty, _The Primacy of Perception_.

Charles Taylor, _Sources of the Self_.

M. Polanyi, _Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy_.


B. Wiker, _Moral Darwinism: How we became Hedonistis_.

J. Rychlak, _The Human Image in Postmodern America_.

McGuire & Tuchanska, _Science Unfettered: A Philosophical Study in

Sociohistorical Ontology_.

L. K. Schmidt, _The Specter of Relativism: Truth, Dialogue, and

Phronesis in Philosophical Hermeneutics_.

J. N. Downing, _Between Conviction and Uncertainty_.

P. Ricouer, _Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences_.

Levinas, _Basic Philosophical Writings_.