About This Special Issue
Greater clinical autonomy and higher professional status of the therapeutic sciences over the past two decades, has highlighted the need for a theoretical framework in the initial stage of the decision-making process to facilitate the process of critical analysis of ethical situations (Wittmer, 2005). A framework is important in an age of accountability and professional responsibility where therapists can no longer simply rely on intuition to guide their actions. Ethical sensitivity skills are important for all facets of the therapeutic process and are in line with the principles of ethics applied to the therapeutic sciences, namely beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, justice, truth telling and promise keeping. The skills within ethical sensitivity facilitate three main functions that include basic cognitive processes that can be taught: i). acquiring information about the ethical situation, which includes processes of perception and inference such as reading and expressing emotions, as well as perspective taking; ii) organising information, which includes processes of critical thinking and reflection such as caring by connecting to others, and working with interpersonal and group differences by controlling social bias; iii) using or interpreting information and includes processes of divergent thinking and prediction through generating interpretations and options with special consideration for the consequences. The ‘information’ can represent an observed incident, perceived relationships, currently experienced emotions, background knowledge of events and relationships retrieved from memory, and present attitudes retrieved from memory (Clarkeburn, 2002; Johnson, 2007; Nichols, 2011). These three functions evolve into deeper, emotional skills as the therapist observes role modelling and gains personal reflective experiences.
Aims and Scope:
1. To present recent research on different aspects of ethical sensitivity to stimulate further discussions and research in the therapeutic sciences.
2. Theoretical framework for ethics with specific reference to ethical sensitivity
3. Current relevance of empathy and cultural sensitivity in the client-therapist relationship
4. Systematic review providing insight into the field of ethics in occupational therapy to supplement other already published reviews for other professions in the therapeutic sciences.