Ethics and Psychotherapy – 3

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In Chapter 4, Tjeltveit discusses approaches that form the basis for making ethical assertions: aretaic (ethic of character), teleologic (ethic of consequence), and deontic (ethic of duty or obligation). He distinguishes between moral judgment (having to do with rules or ideals that say whether behavior is right or wrong) and nonmoral judgment (which he sees mental health values as falling under, although he recognizes some overlap with moral judgment). Tjeltveit also writes about how we come to know what is right – he mentions tradition, reason, science, relationships/community, hermeneutics, and so on. He closes the chapter by discussing the importance of including religion in discussions of ethical theory:

We can therefore conclude that, since some therapist and many clients base their values, and their ethical theory, in some substantial measure on their religious or spiritual convictions, no account of values and ethics in therapy that claims to be adequate and comprehensive can ignore religion and spirituality. (p. 81)

For reflection: For the psychotherapist, what are the practical implications of the relevance of religion on ethical theory?

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