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The most recent churn in right-versus-left dynamics has manifested in Brexit and Trump, presented by liberal progressives as a populist backlash and neo-Nazi lurch. Free counselling sessions were being offered to NHS staff in 2016 to cope with the referendum’s distressing outcome. The Universities of Leeds and Nottingham similarly offered counselling support. I was in a meeting at a psychotherapy training institute in 2016 when a fellow academic spontaneously launched a Brexit-hating tirade as if no rational defence of Brexit was thinkable. The few academics who voted for Brexit, or admitted it, have often found themselves ostracised. Unfortunately, this is unsurprising in the academic profession that is reckoned to be between 70 per cent and 80 per cent staffed by left-wing sympathisers. Neither is it surprising that a majority of young people voted for Remain, partly due to indoctrination by teachers and academics. Tony Blair’s push for a 50 per cent enrolment of young people into university education led not only to high student debts but also to dumbing down and uncritical leftism. The reported snowflake phenomenon, the inability to listen to dissenting views, and violent protests against visiting speakers hated for PC-questioning opinions, underlines this. While therapists are not necessarily academics or intellectuals, the vast majority of training programmes are located in, and validated by universities whose administrators push for equality and diversity targets.

The cat is out of the bag: the majority of therapists have been schooled in liberal views and uncritical espousal of cultural neo-Marxist memes. Most are still unaware of this, since the typical training curriculum, while dwelling somewhat on “socio-cultural contexts” or “difference and diversity”, omits critical thinking applied to leftist therapeutic tenets. Many trainees are recruited as disaffected nurses, teachers and social workers already marinated in diversity training, anti-discriminatory and anti-sexist dogma. Still, socially sensitive practitioners are invited by Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility to “examine whiteness”. A recent counselling textbook sponsored by the British Psychological Society presents chapters on disabilities, on (non-binary) sexualities, ethnicity and gender that invert majority values. Set this alongside contrasting figures: only 9 per cent of British women call themselves feminists; only about 1.5 per cent of people are gay and only 0.1 per cent transgender; 13 per cent are BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic); 9 per cent are disabled. Too much therapy training is oriented towards the needs of the few, not the many. Females in psychology and psychotherapy outnumber males by over 80 per cent. We do not know how therapists, students, or clients vote, but my money would be heavily on Labour, Lib Dem and Green.

Psychotherapy’s skew towards psychological pietism and a politically-correct identity politics contrasts with encounter groups. These show that listening to experiences other than one’s own, engaging in vigorous dialogue, and facing stubbornly different viewpoints, can loosen or affirm ego-based and tribal affiliations. Traditional psychotherapy and counselling promote the introspective, sensitive, androgynous, feeling soul rather than the vigorous, resilient, stoical or enterprising character. We are certainly not all Ayn Rands but neither are we all Foucaults, Fanons or Orbachs. The psychotherapy world has yet to make the shift towards viewpoint diversity, a concept promoted by the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. Meanwhile, very few texts advance anything like a right-wing psychology of well-being. Jordan Peterson, the Toronto University professor of psychology and clinical psychologist, was famously threatened with disciplinary action by his university and hated by many students for his “transphobic” refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns. His research-based views are robustly “traditional” and irksome for the leftist psychotherapy world but might herald hope of some eventual political balance.
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neol maccarthy
February 17th, 2019
3:02 PM
Atkinson, a previous commentator doesnt get it. Moreover he presents the usual anti intellectual argument that those who dont pander to his ideology are inherently dispassionate. His pathetic diatribe highlights why the contents of the article are so pertinent. Imbeciles like Atkinson delineates the usual collection and litany of supposed "right wing" traits that are mere caricatures found in a radical feminist's article in the guardian. Those on the right are as diverse and eclectic as those on the left. The right is a compendium of fiscal conservatives and social libertarians to traditionalists. The traditional family structures, often considered "right of centre" were not units of competition, and alienation but a means of stability and human flourishing, which is why the nuclear family was so successful across many civilisations. In antithesis the fracturing of the nuclear family has resulted in the very claims simpletons like Atkinson rail against, alienation and lack of compassion. The problem with idiots like Atkinson is that they fail to read the contents and come to a conclusion based on premises never argued in the article.To ask what point is being made, given the point is very clear, suggests that comrade Atkinson is so committed, almost a priori like, to an ideology that a point would elude him even if it poked him in the face. He presents more strawmen in his imbecilic rant than a collective farm in the old USSR. Here's a tip Atkinson,read the contents, you may find the point there....with you, I DOUBT IT.

Tim Harvard
July 11th, 2018
10:07 AM
Great article. I've just completed an MA in person-centred therapy and have been appalled by the extent to which the 'person' has been lost, at the expense of tribalism. It often seemed more about Jeremy Corbyn than Carl Rogers. I am apparently in a minority when I see the irony: in therapy we seek to liberate the individual from social 'conditions of worth', yet many therapists are quite happy to impose such conditions on the same person via the politically correct control of word and thought, and the denials and distortions that arise with the mass psychosis of collectivist politics. We are sending new therapists out into the world with a warped sense of perspective: that there are no facts or shared values, that men are just itching to 'oppress' women, that white people are born racist, that gender is nothing more than a fashion choice, that it is more important to find the next trans maths professor than to discuss male suicide, all implying that the therapist's virtue-signalling is more important than the interests of the client. A professor even admitted to me that he considered psychotherapy to be a subset of radical left-wing politics! There it is: you can only care about others if you're a Marxist. As Jordan Peterson is helping to point out, this stuff is very, very dangerous. Was anything ever more dehumanizing than Marxism? Did any Marxist government ever get it right?

Jim buck
June 30th, 2018
6:06 PM
I met the author of the above article at a party last night. A nice enough man. We were born in the same year, and our brief conversation was indicative of similar outlook and interests--in our long-ago youth, at least. He seems to have made much more of himself since. Though, I did do a psychology BSc at SHU, as a mature student---following decades of heavy manual work. Coming from a job (British Rail) with a sturdy trade union presence, it was quite a shock to realise that one of my lecturers at SHU was a holocaust denier, and that psychology, as a subject, attracts those who would rigidly order estates. . Far from being a hot-bed of cultural marxism, there was a small glowing coterie of "critical psychologists" in the psychology department then (late 1990s)--and they provided me with a very useful introduction to the Continental thinkers. I agree with the writer that it is unethical to psychiatrically diagnose President Trump, from a distance. I recall that the Murdoch newspapers did an identical hatchet job on Tony Benn. On Brexit though, I diverge on patriotic grounds. My grandfather fought for England, and won the Military Medal. He would have hated the belittling of Britain that Farage has wrought.

Paul Atkinson
March 1st, 2018
1:03 PM
Your point is what? Of course a majority of therapists are more concerned with compassion, people’s capacity to relate, to support each other in the pain and difficulty of life than they are in a more “right-wing” empahasis on competition, self-sufficiency, economic success and other alienating life goals. You can call the former liberal or even Marxist if you like but Surely that’s you groaning some axe of your own against therapy. What’s your alternative approach to psychological distress? Why not come out and declare your own politics and prejudices.

Michael McManus
March 1st, 2018
10:03 AM
Excellent. I do wonder about how much influence tutors have on students: my experience has been that what is transmitted is seldom what is received. Perhaps it's more a case of birds of a feather. The major failure is the total lack of an evidence base, other than anecdotal. (Freud made number of colossally stupid diagnoses, and I believe the only people who thought being counselled after 9/11 was any help were the therapists.) Least said, soonest mended - not something you'll find in a counsellors office.

March 1st, 2018
5:03 AM
My therapist of nearly 2 decades severed all contact with me after I refused to vote for Obama. And to think I once blindly trusted her to guide me into becoming an adult. Sheesh!

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