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This ongoing interdisciplinary research project is at the nexus of philosophy of science, ethics, placebo studies and psychotherapy research. The current project was launched with an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (2013-2015), awarded to Dr Charlotte Blease. Since that time, the project has gained momentum with international collaborations involving philosophers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapy practitioners from all over the world. In 2014 a Brocher Fondation Award brought together placebo scholars and psychotherapists in an exciting three-day workshop on the shores of beautiful Lake Geneva. The event, entitled 'The Placebo Effect and Psychotherapy: An Ethical Analysis' resulted in two journal special issues on 'placebo and psychotherapy'.
This research complements a wider Irish Research Council project entitled 'When Experts Disagree' ('WEXD') led by Professor Maria Baghramian at the School of Philosophy, University College Dublin. WEXD is an experimental philosophy project which examines disagreement among scientific experts including the impact of disagreement for policy decisions and public opinion. The Placebo in Psychotherapy project complements WEXD by examining therapists' attitudes about how therapy works, and comparing this with a philosophical analysis of current psychotherapy research. In particular this project is focused on providing a new conceptualisation for the terms 'placebo' and 'placebo effect' including how these terms relate to common factors in psychotherapy.
1. To review and integrate placebo studies to produce a unified definition of 'placebo' and 'placebo effect' in psychotherapy.
2. To develop theoretical clarity over how to integrate these placebo concepts with the role of 'common factors' in psychotherapy.
3. To provide ethical analysis of the role of placebo and common factors in informed consent to psychotherapy.