Stoicism & Therapy
Workshop at Exeter University
I’ve just come back from an academic workshop at the University of Exeter, organised by Christopher Gill, Professor of Ancient Thought. Prof. Gill has a special interest in Galen and Stoicism, and their relevance for modern physical and mental wellbeing.
Update: The new blog below has been set up by Exeter University and contains detailed minutes from the workshop:
Along with Professor John Wilkins, Prof. Gill, leads the Healthcare and Wellbeing: Ancient Paradigms and Modern Debates project in the Department of Classics and Ancient History. The project explores the significance of ancient medicine and psychology for modern debates and practice in healthcare and psychotherapy.
Our discussion involved a number of professional psychologists, psychotherapists and academic philosophers and classicists, with a specialist interest in Stoic philosophy, including Tim Lebon, author of Wise Therapy, Jules Evans, author of Philosophy for Life, and John Sellars, author of The Art of Living: The Stoics on the Nature and Function of Philosophy. I talked briefly about the potential relevance of Stoicism for “third-wave” (mindfulness and acceptance-based) CBT, and vice versa. Prof. Gill concluded with a discussion of his recent work on the thought and writings of Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic Emperor and philosopher.
My previous book on Stoicism, The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, goes into the practical analogies between Hellenistic philosophy and modern psychotherapy in some detail, from a moderately academic perspective. By contrast, my subsequent self-help book Build your Resilience, in addition to many references to Marcus Aurelius, concludes with a chapter on Stoicism and Psychological Resilience-Building, written as an introduction for the lay reader. This is currently being expanded by me into a new book about Stoicism, which provides a much more comprehensive introduction to the use of Stoic concepts and techniques in daily living.