Ethics and Psychotherapy – 9

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In Chapter 10 (“Rethinking Psychotherapy’s Location in a Society”), Tjeltveit discusses the role of psychotherapy in society, including its relationship to politics, ethics, and law. He is for a public philosophy for psychotherapy. He also sees psychotherapy as too individualistic and not as focused on benefiting the broader society: “If psychology is to become recognized by the public and managed care as a major player in the mental health marketplace, we must be seen as proficient in addressing the nation’s social concerns” (p. 234). 
                                                                          
For reflection: How do we balance the focus on the individual with a focus on what is best for society? Where are the tensions in this?

1 Comment

  1. We do this in our practice with individuals and in our duties in the political realm. An example of focusing on both the individual and society in practice is when we talk to our clients about the limits of confidentiality. Rather than using language that infers that we are taking something away, we need to remember that those rules protect society, who the client is a member. Wouldn’t my client want me to report if I had a patient who made a threat about a member of their family.

    In terms of politics, we need to be at the table during policy making, so that we can assure that our interests are being take into account. It is important that we take responsibility for furthering the profession through our participation on boards and committees that have decision-making power.

    The tensions will come in to play when we try to fit individual cases into societal rules that conflict. This tension should not be considered as a negative thing, though, but instead as a reminder that psychotherapy is value-laden.

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