Therapy is becoming politicized in ways that deviate from its foundations and turn people away from its unique benefits. One need only watch popular shows such as “Ted Lasso” or “The Shrink Next Door” to see mortifying examples of therapists unethically using their client’s time, attention and even money.
There are certainly precedents for psychotherapy as activism. In the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, feminist and Afro-centric psychotherapy sought to empower women and African Americans by framing their problems as a function of inequality in the world. These approaches gained some popularity, but they remained firmly on the fringe. What’s new is that mainstream psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy have become influenced by broader ideological assumptions that clients are either victims or perpetrators of power structures, and therefore must be classified on this basis and treated accordingly. Working to change hierarchical forces (or decrying them) thereby becomes the focus of therapy.