V609 The Ethical Lives of Clients

What Therapists Can Offer

Clients regularly seek our input on a wide range of ethical dilemmas. Should they divorce? Cut off a difficult family member? Keep or reveal a family secret? End or continue an affair? Yet our field is largely silent on the role we ought to play in the ethical part of clients’ lives. Though it’s something we often already do in the privacy of sessions, how can we better embrace our roles as ethical consultants and develop actual skills in this area of practice? How can we help clients deepen their understanding of their ethical challenges, rather than reduce moral complexity to clinical clichés—like “do what feels right”—or the pretense that we always have the right answer for them? In this workshop, you’ll discover how to:

  • Identify the wide range of ethical issues wrapped up in what clients bring to therapy
  • Describe how advances in moral psychology can apply to therapy
  • Recognize your own moral emotions and those of your clients
  • Develop skills in ethical consultation, including respect for client autonomy

William Doherty, PhD, is a professor and director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project at the University of Minnesota. His books include The Ethical Lives of Clients: Transcending Self-Interest in Psychotherapy.


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