Beth Roy
Radical Therapy
Radical Psychiatry theory begins with the simplest of premises: people are good. We do the best we can under the conditions we are given. Those conditions are social in nature, and because severely stressed for most of us, they stress and distort the human experience. The first step, therefore, is to name the material conditions in which emotional and interpersonal life is lived.

Operationally, that set of ideas runs counter to embedded assumptions of more conventional therapies. We resist explanatory notions of pathology, of addictive or self-destructive behavior, or of biochemical flaws, believing that, in their cultural and professional popularity, they overshadow a view from a more political and material angle. If people act peculiarly, if they are hostile or depressed or anxious, we postulate that there are describable reasons for those behaviors. Starting with an understanding of alienation, we study the ways social dynamics become deeply embedded in individual psyches and lead to feelings, ideas, and behaviors that limit a sense of what is possible, sometimes causing people to act against their own best interests in a manner that may seem irrational but, seen in a larger context, is not. Instead, such behaviors, and the feelings that intertwine them, are products of oppression and their internalization.

It is in the interrelationship of material facts and internalized oppression that the work of "therapy" lies.

For us, therapy takes two primary forms:

PROBLEM SOLVING GROUP: Led by a trained facilitator, groups of six to eight people meet weekly to support each other in making important life changes. We teach cooperative process, helping group members keep relationships clear and providing an experience of being with people in positive and effective ways. By identifying internalized oppression and realistically understanding adverse realities, people strategize ways to challenge limitations and grow steadily toward their goals.

MEDIATION: As an alternative to couples or family therapy, one long session guides people in conflict through a process of clearing the air, analyzing core problems, negotiating differences, and making plans for implementing agreed-upon changes.

In addition to our on-going practices, we train newcomers through apprenticeship. A group of trainees meets regularly for experiential and didactic learning, all based on participation in the groups and mediations as assistants.


To access Radical Therapy: The Second Decade and other writings about Radical Therapy, go to

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