The Role of Aesthetic Judgments in Psychotherapy

This paper describes the nature of aesthetic judgments and the justifications that underpin these, with a particular focus on the theory of aesthetics set out by Kant in the Critique of Judgment. It argues that judgments of self often take the form of aesthetic judgments, that such judgments are prevalent in the psychotherapeutic discourse, and that this has major implications for the type of dialogue that is required in therapy. Such a dialogue shares many of the characteristics of art criticism, but may be supported by scientific empiricism. Recent research on the interaction between emotion and cognition is reviewed and implications for therapeutic change are discussed. The paper concludes that aesthetic philosophy provides a common ground for emotion, cognition, ethics, and a sense of the meaningfulness of life.