Relational Ethics In Therapeutic Practice

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Australian And New Zealand Journal Of Family Therapy


A therapist's ethical values will not always match those of his/her clients; nor may the values they share be congenial with those central to their acquaintances outside. To whose values should a therapist then be responsible? Here it is useful to think in terms of first and second order ethics. First order ethics are those common to everyday life; they are under continuous production, and may or may not be fully articulated. They are also in frequent conflict, inciting animosity and hatred. A second order ethic, however, is one that places the supreme value on the relational process from which all ethics spring. It is thus an ethic that prizes those actions that can bring multiple and conflicting voices into productive communication. Illustrative therapeutic practices are provided.