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date: 17 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The ethics of care poses a special case for psychotherapy. At first glance, key elements of care ethics such as acknowledging our dependence on others, attention to emotions, and creating a supportive environment for healing overlap substantially with key characteristics of psychotherapy. Care ethics’ emphasis on attentiveness and empathetic concern, and related acts such as listening and talking to patients point in the direction of salutary therapeutic relationships, and also of valorizing psychotherapy as a practice. Yet psychotherapy has a long history of critical engagement with the therapeutic relationship, using terms and concepts other than “care.” This chapter shows that while relatively little work has been done on care ethics approaches in psychotherapy, such approaches complement traditional attentiveness to the (psycho)therapeutic relationship by asking to what extent psychotherapists are practicing care and what this entails. Conversely, because psychotherapy has long been concerned with intersubjectivity, as exemplified by the concepts of transference and countertransference, it offers valuable theoretical and practical resources for care ethics approaches.

Keywords: care, feminism, ethics, psychotherapy, boundaries

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