The Student With a Writing Block -- the Ethics of Psychotherapy
Journal of Medical Ethics. 1989 Sep; 15(3): 153-158.
The potential role of the psychotherapist as ethical interventionist is considered with reference to a patient who presented with a writing block. The case for the therapist to act paternalistically is followed by the counterargument which revolves around the respect for autonomy. A bridge between these two opposing positions is then offered which depends on viewing informed consent as a dynamic process. As part of this procedure it is made clear that while autonomy is the desired end-state of psychotherapy, it is not the be all and end all of treatment. Therapy is necessarily value-laden since it aims for the enhancement of the patient's state of autonomy; it is value-free inasmuch as the therapist desists from guiding the patient in how she should live her life.
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