The Helping Professional's Guide to Ethics: A New Perspective
Valerie Bryan, Scott Sanders, and Laura Kaplan
Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2015
180 pages (paperback), $39.95, ISBN 978-1-933478-04-3
Reviewed by Carolyn J. Lewis
In The Helping Professional's Guide to Ethics: A New Perspective, authors Valerie Bryan, Scott Sanders, and Laura Kaplan share a comprehensive framework for ethics in the helping professions based on a theory of common morality. This framework serves to move beyond rote adherence to codes of ethics, allowing professionals to develop a cohesive sense of ethical reasoning that validates their moral intuition and challenges moral assumptions. Bryan, Sanders, and Kaplan suggest that, although there is no single right answer to any ethical question, it is possible to follow a systemic approach that will eliminate poor decisions, allowing practitioners to feel more confident in their practice.
Divided into nine chapters, the book begins by reviewing the basics of moral theory, including the four principles and core values of contemporary principlism, the opposing philosophies of deontology and utilitarianism, and the disconnect between values and ethical decision making. The second chapter explores moral development and its relationship to ethical decision making with a goal to increase readers' appreciation of the complexity of moral development and moral maturity. In chapter 3, the authors set out to explain the moral system of Bernard Gert's framework of common morality, which implies that an explicit account of the moral system and how it functions implicitly in everyday life would best equip individuals to more clearly identify and work through complex ethical issues.
Chapter 4 addresses confidentiality and the duty to warn and protect. Through both moral and legal lenses, Bryan, Sanders, and Kaplan set out to build a greater appreciation for the harms that can be caused through the violation of confidentiality and the professional duty to either prevent those harms or articulate a morally defensible justification for such violation. In chapter 5, the authors discuss contexts for practice in which the assessment of competency is an important part of the ethical process. This is followed by a discussion of some of the ways in which competency has been defined and concludes by arguing a preference for Gert's definition of the word.
Chapter 6 introduces the concept of paternalistic practice, in which a...