Volume II Issue 2

THE PULSE

The Art of Ethical Thinking

by Ken Burr, LMFT

Many of you attended FSTNW’s recent ethics workshop and earned another 6 ethics credits required by the State to keep your license active. As Julie Wood and I prepared to facilitate discussion for this year’s ethics training, we kept repeating a phrase, “The Art of Ethical Thinking.”

People who attended our last two ethics trainings were delighted to find a greater focus on group discussion, rather than the usual didactic seminars that seem to dominate this topic. Discussion groups are a key focus of FSTNW, where we believe there is great wisdom in consulting and connecting with our local community.

Ever since I began working as an MFT, I have been privileged to be part of ongoing weekly case consult groups. When I was beginning to work outside the protected arena of my internship, I felt a great relief to know that my first job with a religious-based agency provided a weekly case consultation meeting. Our consultations included times for personal care and spiritual reflection, followed by a very decisive time for ongoing case consultations. This nurtured a growing confidence in myself and my ability to think through tough cases with more experienced therapists. It also showed me that even the experts get stuck once in a while, which encouraged newbie therapists to realize there are no dumb question when it comes to working with the most tender part of people’s lives.

Going into private practice was another daunting experience when it came to finding the support needed to continue to sharpen my clinical skills. When I discovered an office suite that offered weekly case consultation, I was delighted to join them and increase the number of caring people in my life. I have been meeting with them every Tuesday over a brown bag lunch for nearly 15 years. It has become such an important part of my week that I really can’t imagine working without such a group. We refer to ourselves as an ‘intentional community,” and we have literally weathered life and death with each other as we go through the respective chapters of our lives, and provided a reality check when working with difficult clients. Ethics are often part of our ongoing discussion, and we have developed a great respect for the art of ethically pondering our work with clients and each other.

Interested in joining or starting a consultation group? A great place to start is to use the FSTNW listserv. Send a message to your FSTNW colleagues in an email addressed to fstnw@listserv.fstnw.org to find existing groups or colleagues interested in joining you for a new group.

Two years ago, two or three consultation groups grew out of our FSTNW ethics training. How rewarding to realize that that our work together continues to inspire greater connections and consultation with each other! Regular consultation with our highly esteemed colleagues is one of the greatest perks of our profession. Sadly, it is often an aspect of our work that many have never experienced.

How about you? Do you have a consultation group that meets regularly? Are you interested in being part of an intentional community? Have you thought of others who might join you in such a group? It could be for a specific focus such as EFT, or IFS or Trauma, or it could just be colleagues who you work near you who desire community. FSTNW will continue to grow in many new directions, but I would hope that consultation groups become a bedrock of our work together as we all continue to practice and expand the art of ethical thinking.

Interested in joining or starting a consultation group? A great place to start is to use the FSTNW listserv. Send a message to your FSTNW colleagues in an email addressed to fstnw@listserv.fstnw.org to find existing groups or colleagues interested in joining you for a new group.

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