This book offers a compelling critical analysis of American society by examining the role of psychotherapy within social policy and the culture that has fashioned it. It takes a deeply critical look at ‘the social clinic,’ defined here as a ubiquitous organizational arrangement that includes clinical and community psychology, counseling, clinical social work, psychiatry, much of the self-help industry, complementary and alternative medicine and others. Epstein’s analysis concludes that the social clinic lacks credible evidence of effectiveness and its continued popularity expresses popular but predatory American values such as romantic individualism, the triumph of the subjective, a sense of personal and political chosenness, persistent bigotry, and a preference for tribal as opposed to civic identities. This careful examination of American society through the lens of psychotherapeutic practice characterizes the social clinic as a soothing fiction of the United States.
The book offers caring services as the unrealized alternative to clinical treatment, capable of achieving greater personal adjustment as well as social and economic equality. It will appeal to readers with an interest in social welfare, public policy, and public administration, as well as to students and scholars of psychotherapy, counseling, social work, rehabilitation, and community psychology.