Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Contemporary Psychotherapy

Insofar as scholars in the humanities and social sciences have surveyed the field of mental health, their focus
has largely been on the dangers of psychopharmaceuticals, the excesses of psychiatric diagnosis or the rise
and fall of psychiatric institutions. Despite being a staple of mental healthcare and ubiquitous in contemporary life, little attention has been given to psychotherapy—especially non-psychoanalytic varieties of psychotherapy, including, for example, more recent methods that are tightly integrated with contemporary healthcare systems, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness.

The interdisciplinary research network ‘Talking as Cure? Contemporary Understandings of Mental Health and its Treatment’ at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge invites papers for their annual conference that will offer critical perspectives on contemporary psychotherapy. We seek papers that address topics including, but not limited to:

  • The scope and boundaries of contemporary psychotherapies
  • The evidential basis of psychotherapy
  • Measuring the effectiveness of psychotherapy
  • The aims of psychotherapy and the conceptualisation of ‘improvement’ and ‘recovery’
  • Potential harms arising from contemporary psychotherapies and how to address them
  • Social, political, and economic considerations driving the use of particular psychotherapies over other forms of intervention
  • Social, political, and moral values in psychotherapy
  • The relationship between psychotherapy and other forms of mental health intervention (e.g.,psychopharmaceuticals)
  • Relationships between psychotherapy and the deinstitutionalisation of psychiatry and the rise of carein the community
  • The ‘therapeutic alliance’ or the role of the relationship between clinician and client in psychotherapy
  • How histories of psychotherapy can contribute to contemporary debates
  • Psychotherapies in historical perspective

Please note that as we are hoping to cover an under explored area of the literature, we will not prioritise work on psychoanalysis or more traditional issues of psychiatry such as nosological issues, except in exceptional circumstances (please do email if you want to chat!). Interdisciplinary work and collaborations with clinicians are warmly welcomed.

The conference will be held (online) from 30th September to 1st October 2021. We are seeking presentations of twenty minutes in length, with ten minutes question time.

If you would like to be considered to present a paper at this event, please submit two documents in word or pdf format to by 12 noon (GMT) on 31 May 2021. An abstract of the paper (250-500 words) and an abbreviated CV (not to exceed 1 page) or short biographical description (not to exceed 250 words).