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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The ethics of the psychotherapeutic alliance (a), shared decision making (b), and consensus on therapy goals (c) is discussed in the context of a legal overview in three German-speaking countries. Particular ethical challenges are identified in different settings. Clinical Ethics Support (CES) has gained importance beyond acute medical patient care, but is still new in psychotherapy. Three examples present ethical issues underlying the basic concepts of psychotherapy (a, b, and c) that often go unnoticed or remain implicit. Addressing ethical questions in a practical psychotherapy context may lead to acknowledging more complexity than expected. At the same time, meta-level ethical reflection can help to coordinate previously diverging interests and efforts and remove obstacles towards problem-solving. Complexity as well as problem solving will be illustrated by referring to problems with confidentiality concerning sexual abuse, coercion in treating dependency disorders, and responding to wishes of assisted suicide.

Keywords: ethics, psychotherapeutic alliance, shared decision making, consensus on therapy goals, legal context, clinical ethics support, confidentiality concerning sexual abuse, coercion in treating dependency disorders, responding to wishes of assisted suicide

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