What is it about?

Psychotherapy theorists, researchers, and practitioners have tried to understand good decision making in psychotherapy, but they have relied on unrealistic models for this. We suggest that the Aristotelian concept of practical wisdom describes good therapeutic practice much better. Practical wisdom involves moral perception (the ability to identify what is crucial), moral adjudication (the ability to harmonize different requirements), emotional regulation (the ability to combine cognition and emotion productively), and a good understanding of the aims of the psychotherapy.

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Why is it important?

Psychotherapy is a very important resource for people struggling with life difficulties, and when it is practiced well, psychotherapy can reduce suffering and assist people in living high-quality lives. Practical wisdom is the capacity to understand what it means to live well, and it identifies how to construct a good life. This article offers just one application of practical wisdom to professional activities, but many other professional activities can be similarly characterized, so practical wisdom seems to be very generalizable.


This article has been in the back of my mind for 20 years. I have supervised scores of novice therapists, and, over time, I came to realize that the most important thing I had to teach them was practical wisdom. All the theories and research available cannot help a foolish therapist. That is, wise decision making is an essential element of good psychotherapy, and existing theories and research do not describe or explain it.

Blaine Fowers
University of Miami

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Limits of the concept of altruism: Individualism, Batson’s theory of altruism, and a social realist alternative., Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, May 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/teo0000189.
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