Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Concept of Performative Ethics, a Case Study from Mental Health Services

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Been meaning to discuss this topic for a while and finally wrote out some text in a chat with a colleague this afternoon. Wouldn't consider this finished but is enough to post and maybe get the conversation started. Work in progress. We need to talk about performative ethics standards in health care.

One of my favorite examples of what I'd maybe call "Aspirational But Performative Ethics", from the psychotherapy counseling world, is how absurdly weak the non-abandonment ethics promise is in practice. 

If you're not familiar, the standard that's been settled into is that if a client is terminated while still needing help, you're not supposed to abandon them. Which sounds amazing in theory. But in practice what happens in the "three references" letter, which can be as minimal as searching  the top three names in their city off Psychology Today, all three of whom might be booked up or already tried. And yet that is iron-clad protection against an ethics violation.

Scores of professionals are abandoning clients every week, all the while applauding themselves for how they uphold a rigorous ethical standard and use that to deflect any critique.

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This article brought to you by the currently unfunded Peer Voices Network. 

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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