Thesis Defence: “Working Title: “Phenomenological features of counsellors’ being-ethical in ethically and/or morally challenging situations: Seeing-ethicaly, attention, exposure, proximity, third parties, and the decisive moment”
Ryan Schutt, “Working Title: “Phenomenological features of counsellors’ being-ethical in ethically and/or morally challenging situations: Seeing-ethicaly, attention, exposure, proximity, third parties, and the decisive moment”
Supervisor: Mihaela Launeau, PhD
Second Reader: Lynn Musto, PhD (MSN)
Third Reader: Derek Truscott, PhD (CPSY)
Exam Chair: Andrea Soberg, PhD (MBA)
What does it mean to be ethical? Being an ethical person is often thought of as doing the ‘right thing,’ considering all the possible risks and outcomes, thinking rationally to reach the right decision, suppressing feelings about the given situation, or following the directives of an authoritative document, institution, or person. While these may be important features of living in a world marked by ethical conundrums and uncertainties, I wager that there are other aspects of being-ethical as a counsellor that are essential to our ability to enact meaningful, ethical care as practitioners. I consider the phenomenon of being-ethical as a counsellor via six clinical counsellors’ experiences of morally and/or ethically challenging situations. The six participants were interviewed, and data were analyzed using Personal Phenomenology, a novel approach to conducting hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry, emerging from the Existential Analytic tradition of psychotherapy. Specifically, I concentrate on six features of being-ethical that emerged through analysis. Being-ethical involves: (a) seeing and composing the world ethically; (b) as demonstrating the skill and giving the gift of attention; (c) opening one’s self to the experience of being exposed to suffering of the other and evaluation by others; (d) negotiating one’s proximity to the other; (e) critically engaging with third parties; and (f) acting in the decisive moment. I discuss these features in light of existing research and thinking on counselling ethics. I conclude with reflecting on possible implications for counselling education, institutions, practice, and research.