The Ethical Lives of Clients Transcending Self-Interest in Psychotherapy

Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2021-12-14
Publisher(s): American Psychological Association
List Price: $49.05

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Clients often seek therapists’ input for dealing with ethical dilemmas in their lives, but there is little guidance for therapists in how to do this. This book shows therapists how to serve as ethical consultants who help clients balance their personal needs with their sense of responsibility to others.

Bill Doherty blends decades of clinical experience with personal and philosophical insights to frame the skills and knowledge therapists need to act as ethical guides while respecting client autonomy. He calls for a shift from psychotherapy’s individualistic focus towards a more relational one that includes ethical connections to others.  
Doherty presents the LEAP‑C model, a framework for ethical consulting that utilizes the traditional therapeutic skills of listening, exploring, affirming, and offering perspective, while also challenging clients to recognize ethical issues they don't perceive.

Using detailed case examples, he provides a roadmap for addressing common client dilemmas, such as keeping and ending commitments, having affairs, lying and deceiving, and causing psychological or physical harm to others.
He also provides guidelines for citizen therapists to lend their expertise to help solve larger societal concerns, such as political polarization and police–community relations.

Author Biography

William J. Doherty, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Family Social Science and director of the Citizen Professional Center at the University of Minnesota. He is a practicing psychologist and marriage and family therapist and is cofounder of The Doherty Relationship Institute and the nonprofit Braver Angels. He has made many appearances in media outlets and has written 15 other books, including Helping Couples on the Brink of Divorce: Discernment Counseling for Troubled Relationships (2017). Dr. Doherty is past president of the National Council on Family Relations and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Family Therapy Academy. Visit 

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Ethical Domain of Clients’ Lives
Historical Neglect of the Ethical Domain in Therapy
Shifting From Individualism to a Relational Focus
Overview of the Book

I. The Science and Practice of Ethical Consultation
Chapter 1. Foundations of Ethical Consultation in Therapy
Moral Foundations Theory
The Primacy of Harm in Ethical Consultation
What Ethical Issues Do Clients Bring to Therapy?
The Social Construction of Ethical Choices in Therapy
Toward a New View of the Relational Self in Ethically Informed Therapy
Chapter 2. The Craft of Ethical Consultation in Therapy
The LEAP-C Model of Ethical Consultation
Beyond LEAP: Ethical Challenge

II. Common Ethical Dilemmas in Clients’ Lives
Chapter 3. Keeping or Ending Commitments
Therapy and Marital Commitment
Why Many Therapists Approach Marital Commitment This Way
Adults’ Commitment to Their Parents
The Craft of Ethical Consultation About Commitment
Chapter 4. Having Affairs
The Clinical and Ethical Complexities of Affairs
The Many Contexts and Meanings of Affairs
Strategies for Ethical Consultation About Affairs
Chapter 5. Lying and Deceiving
Lying and Deception in Psychotherapy
When Little Lies Become Big Lies
Challenging Lies That Compromise Another Person
Chapter 6. Harming Others
Divided Loyalties and Risk of Harm
When Clients Harm Adults in Their Lives

III. The Responsibilities of Therapists as Ethical Consultants
Chapter 7. The Self of the Therapist in Ethical Consultation
Therapist Self-Awareness in the Ethical Realm
Cultural Self-Awareness in Ethical Consultation
The Relational, Committed Self of the Therapist
Ethical Caring Beyond Our Clients
Chapter 8. The Citizen Therapist
Therapists and Social Change
What Is a Citizen Therapist?
The Citizen Therapist in the Office
How to Bring Up Public Stress in Therapy
The Citizen Therapist in a Democracy
How to Get Started in the Public Role as a Citizen Therapist
Citizen Therapists and Civic Renewal

Afterword: Two Therapy Cases That Had a Public Impact
The Case of Woody Allen
The Case of Monica Lewinsky

About the Author

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