Some thoughts and notes following a recent academic workshop on Stoic philosophy and modern therapy at the university of Exeter.
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.
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.
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.
Hi everyone, a few months ago we had a very successful Q&A session with Dr John Sellars and now we have an opportunity to interview a modern author that approaches Stoicism from a psychology point of view. Donald Robertson, the author of The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy has graciously agreed to answer our questions about CBT and Stoicism.
Here is how this will work. Please post your questions in this thread, then I will organize them after a few days and forward them to Donald. I will then post his answers and hopefully he will be available to answer any follow-up questions within a few days of the answers being posted.
The book currently has five-star overall review ratings on Amazon UK and USA and has been favourably reviewed already in two academic peer-reviewed journals, one philosophy and one clinical psychology. It’s also been the basis of at least one dissertation.
This is the first book to explore in detail the relationship between modern psychotherapy, especially REBT and CBT, and traditional Socratic philosophy, particularly Stoicism. According to Karnac’s website, it’s currently their most popular book on CBT. Amazon report it’s most popular among people who buy Prof. Paul Gilbert’s book The Compassionate Mind (2010) and Prof. William B. Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (2009).
Several reviews of The Philosophy of CBT have already appeared online and it currently has a five-star rating on Amazon, where one reviewer writes,
“I’ll be honest… I wasn’t originally going to buy this book because although I am very interested in all things CBT I didn’t think I was at all interested in Philosophy. I decided to buy it anyway because I have a huge respect for the author, and other publications of his which I have read have all been superbly written…
“Donald always impresses with his in-depth knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, his subject areas. This book is no exception… he has taken a really interesting area and communicated the material with clarity and insight. I would certainly recommend this book to anybody interested in, or involved with CBT as a book thoroughly worth reading and keeping on the bookshelf!”
We’re pleased with how well it’s doing so far and have created this website/blog about it where you can watch a video interview and read excerpts from the book and reviews about it, as well as related articles.
I hope you’ll enjoy the articles and consider delving into the book to find out more about how Socratic philosophy informs the theory and practice of modern psychotherapy.
Author of The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (2010) The Discovery of Hypnosis: The Complete Writings of James Braid (2009) The Practice of Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapy (due out soon)