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The Clash of Theism and Liberal Individualism in Psychotherapy: A Case Illustration

Brent D. Slife / Lisa Scott / Adam McDonald
Published Online: 2016-06-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0047


The present article extends the work of Allen Bergin by illustrating the therapeutic clash of liberal individualism and theism in an actual therapy case. As many scholars have demonstrated, liberal individualism has long been the “disguised ideology” at the assumptive base of many psychotherapy theories and practices. The case shows how the lead author was an “agent of culture,” to use Bergin’s terms, in his therapy with a Christian woman. It explains how he attempted to persuade her, without realizing it, to move from her basically Christian values to an individualist emphasis on happiness, instrumentalism, freedom from, autonomy, openness, and independence. Recommendations to deal with these issues are described.

Keywords: psychotherapy; religious values; theism; liberal individualism; happiness; instrumentalism; autonomy; openness


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About the article

Received: 2016-01-26

Accepted: 2016-03-17

Published Online: 2016-06-17

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0047.

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©2016 Brent D. Slife et al.. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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