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The myth and meaning of morality in therapy

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Title: The myth and meaning of morality in therapy
Author: Cronin, Margaret-Anne
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program Counselling Psychology
Copyright Date: 1995
Abstract: This study was conducted in order to investigate the manner in which female therapists describe a moral experience in therapy and to investigate what facilitates or hinders a moral experience in therapy. The study was set up to avoid the usual moral dilemmas, legalities or puritanical ponderings that have come to be associated with investigations of moral behaviour. Rather, a moral experience in therapy is defined as a relationship experience between a therapist and client which could be described as upright, good, wholesome and clear and one that involves care and concern. Eight female therapists who had been in practice for at least five years were asked to share two experiences that they had had with clients. The first experience was an experience that they would describe as clear, wholesome and caring, that is 'moral'. The second experience was one that would provide a contrast to the first experience: that is, one that was less clear, caring, wholesome and moral than the first. The interviews were examined using Tappan's hermeneutic model for interpreting lived moral experience. This model looks at the interrelationships among thinking feeling and action that accompany all experience. Where possible it attempts to separate these processes but, more importantly, it emphasizes the difficulty of separating these processes and the influences and interdependencies among them. The results of the study show that while all three processes enter into the therapist's moral presence, the emotional process is most influential in determining relationship outcome. The therapist's 'feelings' while in relationship with her client can, if intense enough, undermine her clearest 'thinking' about how to form a clear and caring relationship. I conclude by stating that it is a myth to believe that teaching ethics assures moral practice.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/3593
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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