by Bill Doherty
In this three-part video, Dr. Doherty, a prominent family therapist and founder of Value-Sensitive Therapy, discusses and demonstrates through an actual live session what he calls moral consultation.
Has the field of psychotherapy gone too far with the cultural imperative to “do your own thing,” as we encourage our clients to liberate themselves from social conformity? According to William Doherty, what’s needed now is not freedom from an overly powerful moral code, but just the opposite: to take the moral domain seriously in the consultation room.
Jan is a high-functioning woman who is dealing with a difficult moral dilemma that many therapists will recognize: she is a wife and mother, unfulfilled in her marriage, and she recently began having an affair. In this session with Jan, Dr. Doherty demonstrates Value-Sensitive Therapy by first honoring both sides of her dilemma, and then making it clear that he values marital commitment. From this values-based perspective, he encourages Jan to work on finding more fulfillment in her marriage, beginning by being honest with her husband about the affair.
Many therapists will find this approach controversial, because most of us have been taught not to bring our own values into the therapy room. However, according to Doherty, neutrality is a myth and “we cannot not influence our clients.” The group discussion after the session is particularly fascinating, as the therapists grapple with the complexities of bringing morality into therapy.
By watching this video, you will:
- Gain an understanding of the principles of Value-Sensitive Therapy.
- Develop ways to bring the moral domain into the therapy room.
- Learn how to effectively help clients who are struggling with moral dilemmas.
Doherty makes a very compelling case for the importance of helping clients reflect on the consequences of their behavior on others, interweaving a poignant social critique of the dangers of the ethos of individualism in contemporary American culture. He compares psychotherapy with trickle-down economics, making you stop and think whether your work with clients might be too focused on the individual, and what you can do to keep the larger community in mind in the consultation room.
Length of DVD: 01:55:00