Interdependence of Technical, Practical, and Emancipatory Inquiry in Psychotherapy Practice and Research: A Commentary on Carere-Comes’ “One or Two Psychotherapies?”

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This article offers an epistemological framework for understanding (a) forms of inquiry entailed in psychotherapy practice and research, and (b) processes of knowledge-validation appropriate to each form of inquiry. Dr. Carere-Comes’ differentiation between 2 psychotherapies is reframed as differentiating practical inquiry from technical inquiry. While affirming the value of this differentiation, this article argues that rather than viewing each form of inquiry as “autonomous” and calling for them to be treated as separate-but-equal, as Carere-Comes does, they are better viewed as irreducible yet interdependent processes, both playing important roles in psychotherapy practice and research. Thus the article offers a proposal for further integrating the approaches Carere-Comes has differentiated. Beyond differentiating and integrating technical and practical inquiry, the article argues that a third irreducible interdependent form of inquiry—emancipatory inquiry—is equally important in psychotherapy practice and research. All 3 forms of inquiry are integrated through an understanding of human autonomy as the telos of the human pursuit of knowledge, and an understanding of the human condition that gives rise to technical, practical and emancipatory questions. Questions of all 3 types arise frequently within psychotherapy and deserve attention in psychotherapy research. Finally, this article challenges a tendency in some parts of Carere-Comes paper to reify the “faculty of intuition” (or “inner logic” of dialogue) as things separate from dialogical meaning-making processes built upon the knowledge the parties bring.

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