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date: 05 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Behaving ethically is at the core of what it means to be a professional. It is central to the contract that all professions have with the persons they serve and with the societies in which they function. This sense of ethical responsibility, and the practice of articulating the underlying values, principles, and behavioral manifestations of such a responsibility, both have a long history. By outlining the history of ethical values and codes, and the meaning of “profession,” from ancient times to the present, this chapter explores several major components involved in psychotherapists’ efforts to be ethical practitioners. This includes attention to the roles of ethics codes, ethical values and principles, moral theory, ethical reasoning, and moral character. Although there is sometimes a tendency to treat these components as separate entities (even in competition with each other as explanatory concepts), the emphasis in this chapter is on how history teaches us that they need to be seen and treated as an integrated whole in our efforts to be ethical practitioners.

Keywords: psychotherapy, history, ethical principles, ethics codes, ethical reasoning, moral character, professions

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