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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the ethical dilemmas that arise in the psychotherapy of high risk offenders, i.e., those offenders who have caused serious harm to others and who may be at risk of doing so again. These offenders may be detained in prison or in secure psychiatric facilities; but wherever they are, they are expected to take part in activities that will reduce their risk to others as well as improve their mental health. The chapter starts by assuming that these “activities” are intended to bring about a change of mind in offenders. It explores the ethical issues raised by this assumption; and reviews previous work covering related themes. It concludes with discussion of the four ethical issues in therapy with offenders: (a) autonomy and coercion, (b) welfare and outcomes, (c) justice, and (d) disclosure of risk and confidentiality.

Keywords: coercion, autonomy, risk, change, justice

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