Psychotherapy and the Social Clinic in the United States

Soothing Fictions

  • William M. Epstein

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxi
  2. William M. Epstein
    Pages 1-10
  3. Psychotherapy

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 11-11
    2. William M. Epstein
      Pages 13-28
    3. William M. Epstein
      Pages 29-52
    4. William M. Epstein
      Pages 53-82
    5. William M. Epstein
      Pages 83-103
  4. Clinical Social Work

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 105-105
    2. William M. Epstein
      Pages 107-135
    3. William M. Epstein
      Pages 137-152
  5. Other Practices of the Social Clinic

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 193-193
    2. William M. Epstein
      Pages 237-267
  6. Clinic and Society

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 269-269
    2. William M. Epstein
      Pages 271-289
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 291-361

About this book


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.

William M. Epstein was Professor of Social Work at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, USA until his retirement in 2019. He is the author of The Masses are the Ruling Classes (2017), Empowerment as Ceremony New (2013), and Democracy without Decency: Good Citizenship and the War on Poverty (2010).


clinical psychotherapy American romanticism American culture Conservatism social welfare rehabilitation individualism Social Work Foster Care Psychotherapy and Society Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Depression Addiction

Authors and affiliations

  • William M. Epstein
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Nevada, Las VegasLas VegasUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Behavioral Science and Psychology
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-32749-1
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-32750-7
  • Buy this book on publisher's site