1st Edition

Reimagining Therapy through Social Contextual Analyses Finding New Ways to Support People in Distress

By Bernard Guerin Copyright 2023
    210 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    210 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book attempts to ‘shake up’ the current complacency around therapy and ‘mental health’ behaviours by putting therapy fully into context using Social Contextual Analysis; showing how changes to our social, discursive, and societal environments, rather than changes to an individual’s ‘mind’, will reduce suffering from the ‘mental health’ behaviours.

    Guerin challenges many assumptions about both current therapy and psychology, and offers alternative approaches, synthesized from sociology, social anthropology, sociolinguistics, and elsewhere. The book provides a way of addressing the ‘mental health’ behaviours including actions, talking, thinking, and emotions, by taking people’s external life situations into account, and not relying on an imagined ‘internal source’. Guerin describes the broad contexts for current Western therapies, referring to social, discursive, cultural, societal, and economic contexts, and suggests that we need to research the components of therapies and stop treating therapies as units. He reframes different types of therapy away from their abstract jargons, offering an alternative approach grounded in our real social worlds, aligning with new thinking that challenges the traditional methods of therapy, and also providing a better framework for rethinking psychology itself. The book ultimately suggests more emphasis should be put on ‘mental health’ behaviours as arising from social issues including the modern contexts of extreme capitalism, excessive bureaucracy, weakened discursive communities, and changing forms of social relationships.

    Practical guidelines are provided for building the reimagined therapies into clinics and institutions where labelling and pathologizing the ‘mental health’ behaviours will no longer be needed. By putting ‘mental health’ behaviours and therapy into a naturalistic or ecological social sciences framework, this book will be practical and fascinating reading for professional therapists, counsellors, social workers, and mental health nurses, as well as academics interested in psychology and the social sciences more generally.

    Dissecting current therapies

    1. Psychology, pop-psychology, and common-sense psychology: Whatever were they thinking for 150 years?

    2. What are the contexts for therapies you need to be aware of?

    3. What do therapists say about what they do? Theories and marketing of therapy

    4. What do therapists do, in general? ‘Applying treatments’ as a misleading metaphor

    5. How do therapists respond? Implicit and explicit social relationships of therapy

    A new approach to stop pathologizing and exoticizing ‘mental health’

    6. What is different with Social Contextual Analyses?

    7. The pivotal role of language for life and therapy

    Rethinking ‘mental health’ as living in restrictive bad life situations

    8. Contextual models of ‘mental health’ behaviours: Behaviours shaped by restrictive bad life situations

    9. How changing context can change action, talking and thinking: Analysing collateral and legacy effects

    10. Summarizing the changes needed for ‘therapy’ after including social and societal contexts

    11. Reimagining ‘treatments’ in their social and societal contexts: What do we do instead?

    List of Figures

    List of Tables




    Bernard Guerin has worked in both Australia and New Zealand researching and teaching to merge psychology with the social sciences. His main research now focuses on contextualizing ‘mental health’ behaviours, working with Indigenous communities, and exploring social contextual analyses especially for language use and thinking.