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Course Information

Instructor Info:Peter Gilford
TA Info:Milo Muise
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Tuesday
06:00 PM - 09:00 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 103

Clinical psychology offers many understandings of what psychotherapy is and how it works. There are many models of therapy to choose from, but how does one choose? In this course we will explore what psychotherapy is from multiple perspectives with the intention on developing a moral and ethical framework through which psychotherapeutic practice can be critically understood. Through this exploration we will examine how shifting cultural values, the reform of the health care system, and other social factors define this healing practice. Prerequisite: Prior undergraduate background in psychology.

Course Objectives:

Course Specifics: The intention of this class is to help you to identify and connect your worldview - -that is, what you think the “good life” and what it means to be human is—to basic understandings of the major schools of psychotherapeutic treatment. In identifying what types of psychotherapy appeal to you and why, and which do not, you will begin to develop a moral and ethical framework about life, human striving and meaning-making, human happiness and human suffering and, most importantly, how psychology and psychotherapeutic practice is inescapably tangled up in the political. The personal will be repeatedly tied to the political.


Learning Objectives: 1) To become familiar with various approaches to psychotherapy and their underlying values, 2) To critically reflect on why certain psychotherapeutic approaches appeal and why others do not, 3) To connect how the values underlying psychotherapeutic approaches challenge or sustain the status quo, and encourage or discourage difference or conformity, 4) To understand how psychotherapies (“technologies of the self”) are situated historically and politically, and 5) To situate your understanding of human suffering and the means to its amelioration in a meaningful, critical frame of reference.

Evaluation Criteria:

Course Requirements and Evaluation Criteria:


Written Work:

Every week you are required to post a one-page (minimum 350 words) reading response/thought piece in reaction to the upcoming week’s reading to the course website by Monday evening before 9PM.


We will also do occasional in-class spontaneous writing in response to experiential activities and video.


Written assignments include two 3-page response papers, an 8-page mid-term paper (Due March 12th) and a 15 page final paper (Due April 30th). Specific instructions for these assignments will be emailed or posted on the course website at least two weeks before the assignments are due.

 Class Presentations:

Students will be responsible for a class presentation on specific readings that should include a 1-2 page summary of the readings for that date to be handed out to the class. Summary outlines of the significant aspects of the readings (or approaches) they are presenting on, and relevant terminology defined. Presentations should last 45 minutes and should include a visual component, a case example, and a creative exercise. Presentations will be evaluated by the class and suggested revisions to the format of presentations may happen throughout the semester. Below is the suggested areas presentations of specific therapeutic approaches may cover. Presenters/presentations are intended to stimulate discussion base on the summary of the assigned readings.


            Historical Background

            Concept of Personality

            Psychological Health and Pathology

            Process of Clinical Assessment (if any)

            The Practice of Therapy

            The Therapeutic Relationship and the Stance of the Therapist

            Curative Factors or Mechanisms of Change

            Treatment Applicability and Ethical Considerations

            Research Support or Evidence for Efficacy

            Case Illustration and/or role-play


There will be one presentation each class session excepting the first and last class, so you should chose a partner for your presentation. The presenters are also responsible for initiating and structuring the class discussion, thus it is shouldn’t be necessary to prepare to speak the entire 45 minutes. Presenters are encouraged to be creative in their presentations, using film, literature, poetry, case examples, experiential exercises etc., to illustrate or highlight aspects of what they are presenting on.


For those presenting on a particular form of therapy should provide the essential assumptions of the theory and technique—but the main focus of the presentation should be critical - - that is, the presenters should discuss the positive and negative aspects of the approach they are discussing based on their own stated ethical criteria and also that derived from discussion and critical analysis.

Additional Info:

Your engagement in this class forms the basis for your evaluation. Engagement is evidenced in the quality, thoughfulness and care reflected in your written work, through thoughtful (as opposed to reactive) comments in class discussions, the efffectiveness of your presentation, and particularly important is the quality of your written work.