Rethinking counseling from a relational perspective: From alleviating suffering to 'becoming human'

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Counseling practices are guided by an aspiration to alleviate suffering and enhance well-being of clients. This entails a focus on minimizing vulnerability to others and on preservation from injury and violation. In the work of Judith Butler, too, there is a strong focus on the ethical importance of alleviating suffering, more precisely suffering related to oppression and social exclusion. Butler, however, also stresses the ethical limitations of attempting to preserve ourselves from injury and violation, in relation to her view that human beings are implicated and intertwined in each other's existence. An exploration of how this perspective resonates in the domain of counseling suggests that the practice of ethical counseling may benefit from rethinking the aim of counseling in terms of 'becoming human'.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBodies that still matter
Subtitle of host publicationResonances of the work of Judith Butler
EditorsAnnemie Halsema, Katja Kwastek, Roel van den Oever
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9789048552504
ISBN (Print)9789463722940
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • counseling
  • psychotherapy
  • vulnerability
  • suffering
  • becoming (in)human

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