Science / Technology and Health

Psychotherapy for the Other

Written by Laura Paskin, College of Arts and Sciences

March 25, 2015

the fountain at the Quad with Fall trees in the background

A new book published by Krycka and Kunz examines the philosophy of Levinas.

Psychology Professor Kevin Krycka, director of the M.A. in Psychology program (left), and Professor Emeritus George Kunz published Psychotherapy for the Other: Levinas and the Face-to-Face Relationship with George Sayre (Duquesne University Press, 2015). The book, a collection of essays from scholars and practitioners, challenges many traditional elements of contemporary psychology and psychotherapy. Kunz visited with Emmanuel Levinas in 1987. Krycka will discuss his book at a public event on May 7 at 6 p.m. 

Psychotherapy for the Other takes an in-depth look at the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and with its focus on ethics and responsibility for others. 

"Levinas gave us significant insights and ways to think about alternative approaches to the very practice of psychotherapy," Krycka said. "The implications of Levinas's ethics for therapy focus on the therapist's relationship to the client, but psychotherapy can also be envisioned as a broader and more ethical endeavor, focusing as well on the responsibility of clients toward the others in their own lives." 

The essays reflect on Levinas's other-centered perspective that breaks from standard theory and technique so that neither concepts nor practiced skills remain at the center of therapy. Rather, being ethical becomes more than following one's professional code of conduct, and responsibility is instead the therapist's primary contribution and the desired outcome of good psychotherapy. 

Psychotherapy for the Other moves forward with essential theoretical and practical discussions that build on earlier explorations. The essays freshly examine a variety of issues for psychotherapy: the nature of language, the apparent asymmetry in the therapist-client relationship, domestic violence, post-traumatic stress syndrome, motherhood, social justice, and trauma, among others. Included in the book is Professor Emeritus Steen Halling 's influential essay, "The Implications of Levinas's Totality and Infinity for Therapy." 

Kevin Krycka, who received his PsyD from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, joined the faculty in 1989. He focuses his research and teaching on experiential theory and practice, therapeutic communication, and theories of peacebuilding. He directs the Master of Arts in Psychology program, teaches, and maintains a private practice. 

George Kunz co-founded the Master of Arts in Psychology program with Steen Halling in 1980. He is the author of  The Paradox of Power and Weakness: Levinas and an Alternative Paradigm for Psychology .  

George Sayre, PsyD taught in the psychology department for many years. Currently he is a health science researcher and qualitative resources coordinator at the Puget Sound Veterans Health Administration.