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Toward a hermeneutic model of ethical decision making in clinical practice

Ethics and Behavior 7 (4):347 – 365 (1997)
Abstract
Documented ethical violations and empirical research have demonstrated that, despite professional standards and formal training in ethical principles, some psychotherapists engage in unethical behaviors that compromise the welfare of clients. It appears that competing values and interests that emerge in the therapeutic endeavor can interfere with therapists' considerations of ethical standards and their willingness to act ethically. Expanding current models of ethical decision making, this article offers a hermeneutic model that recognizes that in addition to moral reasoning, the context of the therapeutic relationship and the therapist's subjective responses are fundamental considerations in the interpretation and application of ethical interventions. Implications for understanding and training of ethics in psychotherapy in this broader context are explored.
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