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Fundamental Concepts in Philosophy for Psychotherapy with Elizabeth Sikes, PhD, LMHC

Fundamental Concepts in Philosophy for Psychotherapy with Elizabeth Sikes, PhD, LMHC Date: 2020-12-15 19:00 to 21:00
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Fundamental Concepts in Philosophy for Psychotherapy with Elizabeth Sikes, PhD, LMHC

Monday, November 2, 2020 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Tuesday, December 1, 2020 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Tuesday, December 15, 2020 7:00pm to 9:00pm
via Zoom
Sponsored by: 

Note: the first class date has been moved to Monday evening to avoid coinciding with Election Day.  

Philosophy and psychology have a long history together. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates considered philosophy the practice of caring for the soul, psyche, and himself the soul’s physician. The Buddha was called the Medicine King, with his four noble truths as a kind of life-therapeutics. Philosophical traditions globally offer rich treasuries of concepts and thinking for use as medicine in our practice with patients, and to augment and deepen psychoanalytic insights. This seminar will focus on some fundamental concepts in existential philosophy, particularly those relevant now in this historical-political moment of reckoning with structural racism and the trauma of marginalized Others. We will reflect on nihilism, the Other, freedom-responsibility, and abjection in readings drawn from Nietzsche, Cornell West, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Julia Kristeva.

Instructor: Elizabeth Sikes, PhD, LMHC, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Seattle and a core faculty member of The New School for Analytical Psychology . She holds a doctorate in philosophy and has written, researched and taught in the areas of existential and environmental philosophy. She is the co-leader of Seattle University’s Ecosangha Zen meditation group.

Course Outline: As the facilitator, I will draw participants’ attention to key passages in the readings for understanding the central concept designated for that day. After an initial grounding, I envision the seminar discussion branching out to reflect on ways the concept appears clinically in our patients’ struggles and more broadly in those of the historical moment, our contemporary society and institutions. I will be relying on the wisdom and imagination of the group to take us into these more expansive territories of thought and connection!

  • November 2: 
    • Introductions of participants
    • Concept: Nihilism 
    • Readings: F. Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, Essays 2 and 3. Cornell West, “Nihilism in Black America”
  • November 17: 
    • Recap discussion on Nihilism 
    • Concepts: Freedom and Responsibility
    • Readings: J. P. Sartre, “Existentialism”
  • December 1: 
    • Recap discussion on Freedom and Responsibility 
    • Concept: the Other
    • Reading: Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Introduction
  • December 15: 
    • Recap discussion of the Other
    • Concept: Abjection. 
    • Reading: Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror (Selections)

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will understand the concepts of nihilism, the Other, freedom and responsibility, and abjection.
  2. Participants will learn how philosophical concepts apply to psychoanalytic insights.
  3. Participants will reflect on how philosophical concepts are operative in their practice with patients and how they can be used to deepen their work with them.

Cost: $200 for Alliance members/$240.00 for non-members

Class size is limited to 12 participants. 

Refund Policy: Refunds less a $10 handling fee will be given up until one week before the first class.

    Contact Person: 
    Elizabeth Sikes
    Contact Email:
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