Trained to strive for neutrality and to focus strictly on the clients’ needs, most therapists generally consider moral issues such as fairness, truthfulness, and obligation beyond their domain. Now, an award-winning psychologist and family therapist criticizes psychotherapy’s overemphasis on individual self-interest and calls for a sense of moral responsibility in therapy.
Psychotherapists since Freud, in Doherty's biting assessment, have overemphasized individual self-fulfillment while paying insufficient attention to the patient's moral values, accountability and family and community responsibilities. The psychologist-director of the University of Minnesota's marriage and family therapy program, Doherty draws on his own clinical practice in this important critique. Going against the prevailing wisdom, he proposes that therapists should consciously influence clients to change their behavior in light of the moral issues involved. Among the illustrative case histories are a recently divorced father who is considering abandoning his children; a depressed, anorexic, suicidal young man who needs emotional distance from his controlling, intrusive mother; and a couple coping with the strain of caring for their developmentally delayed, four-year-old daughter. Included are guidelines for those seeking a morally sensitive therapist. (Apr.)