Talking as Cure? Contemporary Understandings of Mental Health and its Treatment [2020-21]

Alternate Wednesdays 14.30-16.30 during term time, unless otherwise noted. Please see programme for details (UK Time).

Online sessions until further notice.


About

In so far as the field of mental health has been surveyed from the ‘outside’, the focus has been on dangers of psychopharmaceuticals or the excesses of psychiatric diagnosis. Less attention has been given to the role of psychotherapy, particularly the ‘talking therapies’, aside from psychoanalysis.

Talking therapies are often presented as safe and versatile interventions, suitable as an alternative to pharmaceuticals. In addition to treating mental illness, individuals increasingly face an expectation to seek professional talking services when experiencing challenging circumstances more generally. Are there any risks to these interventions? What are the implications of a tacit expectation to seek therapy?

This network unites scholars from across the humanities to develop a holistic understanding of why certain methods of talking and interpersonal exchange are deemed therapeutic and how they came to have this status. We will explore the emergence of these therapeutic ideas and practices, survey the landscape of contemporary talking therapies, scrutinise the structures and dynamics that practitioners and patients must negotiate while participating in talking therapies today, and consider the ethical questions raised by these therapeutic practices.

The network comprises of a fortnightly reading group, an adhoc work-in-progress group and a monthly 'Coffee with Clinicians' meeting.


Lent Term 2021

How does Psychotherapy Work?
We will start with a discussion of how psychotherapy is currently tested, and then turn to the question of what makes it efficacious and how we should understand psychotherapy as a discipline — as a science, as offering frameworks for understanding the world, as a culture of healing?
 

Michaelmas 2020

Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy — one of the most prevalent schools of contemporary psychotherapy — as a case study we will consider the various background forces that shaped the landscape of contemporary talking therapy.

ALL SESSIONS FOR THIS TERM WILL OCCUR ONLINE
Join the mailing list for up-to-date information and details of online meetings; please also let us know if you have difficulty locating the readings.

To join the mailing list please click here
Twitter: @TalkingasCure
Administrative assistance: networks@crassh.cam.ac.uk

Convenors

Convenors

Riana Betzler (McDonnell Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Philosophy/PNP Program, Washington University)
Hannah Blythe (PhD Candidate, Faculty of History)
Sahanika Ratnayake (PhD Candidate, Faculty of Philosophy)

 

Riana Betzler is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Philosophy Department/Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program at Washington University in St. Louis.  She investigates the relationship between scientific work on empathy and claims about its social and moral value - including in contexts like medicine and psychotherapy.

 

 

Hannah Blythe is a PhD student in Cambridge History Faculty. Her thesis examines mental health charity in Britain between 1879 and 1939, focussing on the first philanthropic organisations to treat patients outside the asylum.

 

 

Sahanika Ratnayake is PhD student in Cambridge Philosophy Faculty. Her work is on the philosophical underpinnings of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness.

 

Faculty Advisors

Anna Alexandrova  (Senior Lecturer, History and Philosophy of Science)
Simon Szreter (Professor in History and Public Policy, Faculty of History)
Robbie Duschinsky (Senior Lecturer, Department of Public Health and Primary Care)

Programme 2020-21

All online events are scheduled at UK time. Please check time for individual events.

Easter Term 2021
Having considered what factors might be common to psychotherapies, we turn our attention to the potential influences of the contexts in which psychotherapies are delivered. Can the specific context in which it is delivered affect a psychotherapy's potential to induce benefit or to cause harm? 

Talking as Cure
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy - Reading Group
28 April 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Sexuality and Family Therapy - Reading Group
12 May 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Autism and Applied Behaviour Analysis - Reading Group
26 May 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Mindfulness – Reading Group
09 June 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Religion and Psychotherapy - Reading Group
16 June 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Contemporary Psychotherapy
30 September 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)

Lent term 2021
How does Psychotherapy Work?
We will start with a discussion of how psychotherapy is currently tested, and then turn to the question of what makes it efficacious and how we should understand psychotherapy as a discipline — as a science, as offering frameworks for understanding the world, as a culture of healing?

Talking as Cure
Helping and Harming – Reading Group
20 January 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
The Dodo Bird Problem – Reading Group
03 February 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Reading Group: Jerome Frank and Common Factors
17 February 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Talking as Cure? Reading Group: Carl Rogers
03 March 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Robert Fancher: Cultures of Healing – Reading Group
17 March 2021, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)


Michaelmas term 2020
Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy — one of the most prevalent schools of contemporary psychotherapy — as a case study we will consider the various background forces that shaped the landscape of contemporary talking therapy.
Talking as Cure
The Decline of Psychoanalysis. Reading Group
07 October 2020, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
The Rise of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Reading Group
21 October 2020, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Psychotherapy in Britain – Reading Group
04 November 2020, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Reading Group: Evidence Based Medicine
18 November 2020, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)
Psychotherapy and the NHS. Reading Group
02 December 2020, ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)

Blogs


 

Author: Hannah Blythe

Hannah Blythe is a PhD student in the Cambridge History Faculty and co-convenor of the 'Talking as Cure? Contemporary Understandings of Mental Health and its Treatment' Research Network at CRASSH.

"The subject of psychotherapy doesn’t quite seem to fit into History's established sub-disciplines."

 

Author: Mikkel Kenni Bruun

A blog post written by Mikkel Kenni Bruun (Cambridge Department of Social Anthropology) for the Talking as Cure? Contemporary Understandings of Mental Health and its Treatments Research Network.

"The context of IAPT might serve as an analytical break against a common bifurcation of the psychotherapeutic and the biomedical."

 

Author: Alistair Gaskell

A blog written by Alistair Gaskell of the Cambridge Stepped Care Therapies Service for Older People. He is a member of the Talking as Cure? Research Network at CRASSH.

"Most schools of psychological therapy do not have a well-developed account of how social and cultural contexts can influence an individual’s experience of distress, making it difficult to incorporate them into a clinical formulation."

 

Author: Katherine Franco

Katherine Franco is an incoming MSt student at the University of Oxford in English with interest in subjectivity, epistemology theories of reading, and philosophy of medicine. She has written this guest blog for Talking as Cure? Research Network at CRASSH.

" I use Merrill Moore's sonnet as a case to study to examine the relationship between poetic practice and recovery models in evidence-based therapy."

 

 

Podcast

A series of podcasts recorded for the Cambridge Festival 2021