We live in troubled times: climate crisis, war and authoritarian ‘populism’ are just some of the challenges we are currently facing. Never has there been such a need for a new approach to politics – nor such an opportunity for one.
To create a world in which people thrive, we need to know what thriving is. Over the past century, psychotherapy – and its parent discipline, psychology – has built up a vibrant, nuanced and highly practical understanding of human wellbeing and distress. This book describes a progressive political approach that integrates insights from the psychotherapeutic and psychological domain, moving us from a politics of blame to a politics of understanding.
In this vision of society – surrounded by a culture of radical acceptance – all individuals can live rich and fulfilling lives. We need those shaping our political landscape to understand psychological needs and processes more deeply to enhance our ability to work with others in a spirit of collaboration, dialogue and respect.
"A heartening, bold and inspiring book bringing together psychology and social theory to ask fundamental questions about how we can strive for an equable and humane society which meets our need to be recognised, connected and seen." Susie Orbach, psychotherapist and author
“A unique mix of vision, provocation, how-to and self-help for the processes, skills and mindsets needed for change to come about. Warmly generous and collegial, it is hard to imagine a more necessary book in these times." Katherine Trebeck, Wellbeing Economy Alliance
“A convincing case for an internally coherent progressivism, system-wide principles of the-Good that apply to individuals, parents, educators, couples, society and its policy makers, and our relationship to the planet as a whole. Cooper ambitiously argues for psychologically informed political strategy, an urgently needed alternative to free market neoliberal capitalism. Terrific!” Orna Guralnik, New York University
“Have you ever wondered what psychology can do to make a positive contribution to building a sustainable and more just society? Cooper offers a comprehensive framework for how to use psychotherapeutic principles to revitalise progressive political practice.” John McLeod, Abertay University
“Offers practical methods from psychology to address our biggest problems: from conflict in our intimate relationships, to antagonism across social institutions and international geopolitics. Opens up compelling and nuanced understandings of both the motives and needs of diverse human populations that would undoubtedly strengthen progressive politics.” Christabel Harley, Central St Martins, University of the Arts London
"Moves from broad theoretical concerns to perspectives on productive and fulfilling living in the present social system. But it also measures the present by way of a humanist and anticapitalist standard that allows us to grasp – and think about – better outcomes for ourselves and our communities.” Kevin Anderson, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Just when we most need it, Mick Cooper delivers a brilliant message about why psychology is essential to achieve social change in our era. He’s right: progressive politics needs therapy, which he delivers with a beautiful vision. Anyone concerned about creating a more cooperative, caring world must read this book.” Carol Ryff, University of Wisconsin–Madison
“A very powerful case for integrating the insights of humanistic psychology into activism. Being more honest, accepting and compassionate, as well as showing our vulnerability, would undoubtedly get us a lot further." Peter Baker, Director, Global Action on Men’s Health
Mick Cooper is Professor of Counselling Psychology at the University of Roehampton and a chartered psychologist. Mick is best known for his writing in the psychological therapies field. He is author/co-author of ten books, and co-editor of a further eight. Mick has led international research on counselling for children and young people, goals in therapy, and psychotherapy preferences. He is a leading figure in the humanistic psychology field, receiving the 2014 Mid-Career Award from Division 32 (Humanistic Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. Mick is the father of four children and lives in Brighton.
1. Introduction: Progressive politics needs therapy
2. A psychology-informed progressivism v1.0: socialist humanism
3. Understanding people: a contemporary framework
4. Wellbeing and distress: a directional account
5. Conflict and cooperation, inside and out
6. Common principles of positive change
7. Making it happen: concrete strategies for a psychology-informed progressivism
8. The further future: envisioning a progressive utopia
9. A day in utopia
10. In conclusion …