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Hewitt, P. (2000). Face to Face: Therapy as Ethics by Paul Gordon. Published by Constable, London, 1999; 190 pages; £15.99 hardback. Brit. J. Psychother., 16(3):365-366.

(2000). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 16(3):365-366

Book Reviews

Face to Face: Therapy as Ethics by Paul Gordon. Published by Constable, London, 1999; 190 pages; £15.99 hardback

Review by:
Philip Hewitt

Although Paul Gordon has not claimed this directly, Face to Face is a book for all psychotherapists. This book is the assembly of a core ethical and theoretical position and unavoidably addresses some difficult questions about the current state of psychotherapy. Whilst Gordon is as suspicious of ‘caring’ (p. 21) as he is of the ‘odour of sanctimony’ (p. 21) as motive forces in psychotherapy, this is a book about ethics, morals and sharing responsibility for what is happening around us in a fast and inexorably changing professional climate. In this sense it is a book with great care for the practice of psychotherapy.

It is not a book of clinical or just theoretical material but, as Gordon says, he has drawn upon all his experience as a therapist and this important work is carefully and sensitively informed by it. It is an ethical statement implicating the subjective commitment of the author to his work. The illusive object of psychotherapy is the subject of discussion. It is a problem which the author admits he does not offer as a direct question because he fears misinterpretation. The misinterpretation is that he would be misunderstood as saying what psychotherapy is rather than inviting the individual to discover for himself how he might be ‘Face to Face’ in a psychotherapeutic relationship, and by this he means something real, meaningful and essentially human. He does not eschew the couch but, inspired by the work of Emmanuel Levinas, he is making another point.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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