William J. DohertyApr 12, 2023
The Ethical Lives of Clients
Transcending Self-Interest in Psychotherapy
American Psychological Association 2021
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. The Ethical Lives of Clients: Transcending Self-Interest in Psychotherapy (APA, 2021) shows therapists how to serve as ethical consultants who help clients balance their personal needs with their sense of responsibility to others.
Dr. 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, Doherty 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.
Karyne Messina is a licensed psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis and am on the medical staff of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. She is the author of Resurgence of Populism: A Psychoanalytic Study of Projective Identification, Blame Shifting and the Corruption of Democracy (Routledge, 2022).