1st Edition

Levinas and the Other in Psychotherapy and Counselling

Edited By Del Loewenthal Copyright 2023
    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    For Emmanuel Levinas the danger of Western thought is that, if we start with ourselves, we end with ourselves. Psychotherapy and counselling would be for the sole purpose of strengthening self-initiated and self-directed fulfilment, resulting in individual and societal forms of totalitarianism. Levinas suggests that ethics should be about putting the Other first, but not in some fundamentalist Christian sense of the self-choosing to give one’s life for others. The origin of authentic ethical behaviour is not from the self but from the Other.

    Levinas offers us a fundamental shift in our thinking about therapeutic practices. His writings call on us to have an ethical responsibility in the very way we practice therapy. This is with all the complexities of negotiating from nearness and distance, involvement and boundaries, and how we view ourselves in attempting to do this. Levinas inspires us towards ontological, epistemological and methodological shifts. The attempt to put the Other first can significantly change our notion of being. It can help us be taken away from the dangers of a therapy based on ego psychology, which seems to permeate so much of our therapies whether classified as humanistic, psychoanalytic, behavioural or existential. All except the Introduction and two of the chapters were originally published in the European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling.

    Introduction: Levinas and the Other in psychotherapy and counselling

    Del Loewenthal and George Kunz

    1. Levinas (1905–1995): His life and some key ideas

    Del Loewenthal and Robert Snell

    2. Emmanuel Levinas (2003) On Escape

    Richard A. Cohen

    3. Knowledge of the Other

    James E. Faulconer

    4. Self-betraying emotions and the psychology of heteronomy

    Richard N. Williams

    5. Towards an ethical-hermeneutics

    Jeff Warren

    6. Beyond therapy: Levinas and ethical therapeutics

    Robert D. Walsh

    7. Toward a therapy for the Other

    George Sayre

    8. Epistemology and the hither side: A Levinasian account of relational knowing

    Joshua W. Clegg and Brent D. Slife

    9. The difficulty of being: A partial reading of E. Levinas, De l’existence à l’existant

    Jeffrey Bloechl

    10. The idea of a possibility

    Helen Douglas

    11. Taking therapy beyond modernity? The promise and limitations of a Levinasian understanding

    Richard House

    12. The ethics of the relational

    Del Loewenthal


    Del Loewenthal is Emeritus Professor of Psychotherapy and Counselling at the University of Roehampton and is Chair of the Southern Association for Psychotherapy and Counselling (SAFPAC), London, UK.   He is an existential-analytic psychotherapist, and chartered psychologist, with a particular interest in phenomenology. His books include Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling after Postmodernism (Routledge 2017). www.delloewenthal.com; www.safpac.co.uk