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Psychotherapy recently has been interpreted by hermeneutically-inspired writers and scholars in ways that emphasize the historical, sociocultural, moral, and political embeddedness of psychotherapeutic practice. Following a brief introduction to the core ideas of twentieth-century Continental hermeneuts, more recent work is discussed that has applied these ideas directly to the interpretation of psychotherapy. The authors' own reading of these hermeneutic writings indicates that psychotherapy can be understood as a practical, moral, and interpretive attempt to assist clients by extending their understanding of their lives and concerns in a specific way. The enhanced understanding that is sought takes the form of clarifying the particular existence of clients in ways that relate to human existence in general. In the final section of the article, the authors' understanding of psychotherapy as the interpretation of being is discussed, and implications for psychotherapy are drawn.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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