Book Reviews -- the Moral Dimensions of Marriage and Family Therapy by August G. Lageman

Article excerpt

Lageman, August G. (1993). The Moral Dimensions of Marriage and Family Therapy. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. 138 pp. Paper ISBN 0-8191-8965-0, price $39.50.

This little volume is the most conceptually sophisticated book yet published on moral and ethical issues in marriage and family therapy. Because the author has the advantage of being both a clinician and a college teacher of moral philosophy, he brings grounding in everyday clinical practice and a sure-footed understanding of the major philosophical issues to his topic.

The book begins appropriately, with the broader contextual issues of social structures and professional ideologies. The middle chapters discuss specific ethical issues in marriage and family therapy, including an insightful discussion of the limitations of professional codes of conduct. The last two chapters describe developmental moral theory (providing a bridge between moral philosophy and moral psychology) and virtue ethics. This discussion of the qualities of character (virtues) for marriage and family therapists is the first detailed presentation of these ideas in the field.

Of special merit is the author's effort to undermine the split between the private and public domains of family life and family therapy. He sees public advocacy against injustice as being as much a part of professional ethics as respecting the confidentiality of clients.

My principle criticism of the book is that, in its conciseness, it does not give rich clinical descriptions of ethical dilemmas and ways to resolve them. …