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The Ethics of Caring: Finding Right Relationship with Clients

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The Ethics of Caring: Finding Right Relationship with Clients



ISBN No. 978-1-59275-008-5

The Ethics of Caring is a unique and widely recommended text that complements standard ethics texts by helping the student or professional find  right relationship with a client. Written for practicing therapy and medical professionals, bodyworkers, clergy, students, teachers, supervisors, and mentors, The Ethics of Caring model first promotes self-compassion, then gently guides self-reflection about unconscious countertransference that often occurs in the main areas of human life. The book illuminates many extraordinary types of human experiences to help professionals become aware in case clients bring these profound states in some way to the professional for support.

The Ethics of Caring won the Nautilus Book Award, the Silver Medal for the category, Relationships & Communication.

Staying in right relationship with a client is often an artful movement, a dance with a different "partner" each time. Yet there are helpful rules of thumb that can keep us from stepping on toes (doing harm) and actually support both professional and client in doing a beautiful, healing dance together (creating client benefit). The Ethics of Caring is a unique ethics text designed to guide the self-compassionate self-reflection of both students and professionals (therapists, clergy, hospice workers, bodyworkers, educators, medical professionals, mentors, and other caregivers) toward understanding human motivations and countertransference, finding professional right relationship, and making good choices with clients. The Ethics of Caring also illuminates the inevitable, profound, transformative moments in a professional relationship, which furnish greater potential for client healing, but also may bring greater ethical challenges. 

The Ethics of Caring can be used as a classroom text, a manual for self-supervision, a guide for peer supervision groups or to assist supervisors in more formal individual and group supervision. 

Price: $25.95
Critical Reviews: 

The Ethics of Caring won the 2017 Nautilus Book Award, the Silver Medal for the category, Relationships & Communication.

The Ethics of Caring is an extraordinarily helpful and groundbreaking new book for healers, clergy, therapists, and bodyworkers that illuminates what is necessary to offer wise and trustworthy relations to their clients. Kylea has grounded her work in the spiritual principle of reverence for life that underlies all the world’s great religions and healing systems. She elaborates upon the basic principles of non-harming as they are needed for the vast terrain of healing realms, including crisis of trauma, loss and grief work, spiritual counseling, expanded consciousness, and energetic and shamanic openings. The Ethics of Caring alerts healers not to underestimate the power of energies that arise in extraordinary states through transference and countertransference.

~ Jack Kornfield, Ph.D., author of A Wise Heart, A Lamp in the Darkness, The Art of Forgiveness and Lovingkindness, A Path with Heart, and After the Ecstasy the Laundry

This is a wonderful resource book that can be an invaluable professional guide for maintaining ethics and integrity within the helping professions.

~Angeles Arrien, Ph.D., cultural anthropologist, author of The Four-Fold Way, Signs of Life, and The Second Half of Life.

I want to highly recommend Kylea’s book, The Ethics of Caring. It is truly in a class by itself in the literature on ethics in therapy. I’ve read many books in this area and have been on a Board responsible for reviewing and approving the code of ethics for a large professional association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT), and, to my knowledge, Kylea’s book is unique in the field. It combines the rigors of professionalism with a deep and complex understanding of the human heart, soul, and mind. It really is an important book. If you are a professor or teacher you might want to consider it as required reading.

~ Sara Wright, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Board Member, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), Past-President, Minnesota Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT)

The work with extraordinary states of consciousness brings specific new challenges and problems that go beyond those encountered in traditional verbal and experiential approaches. Kylea Taylor’s book is a pioneering venture into these new territories, providing important guidelines for practitioners and students.

~ Stanislav Grof, M.D., author of Psychology of the Future, The Ultimate Journey, Realms of the Human Unconscious, and The Adventure of Self Discovery

The Ethics of Caring is a must have for practitioners of all kinds, and most especially those working with regressed or altered states. Kylea Taylor's model provides the scaffolding for practitioners to self examine where they are particularly vulnerable to ethical digression.  Her work is required reading for educators in prenatal and perinatal psychology and health; it has helped us form a container for our professionals to self reflect and create awareness about appropriate behavior and responses in our field. This model also has a way for ethics to make sense beyond the usual mode of "do no harm." Many professionals think of ethics as common sense. The Ethics of Caring allows professionals to go deeper into their own material and embrace how their mistakes are gifts. Kylea Taylor also includes spirituality and extraordinary states of consciousness and other special conditions for transpersonal work. I highly recommend this book. 

Kate White, MA, LMT, RCST®, CEIM, SEP, Director of Education and Administrator, Prenatal and Perinatal Educator Certificate Program, The Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health.

The Ethics of Caring is a book that students and professionals actually read!  Kylea Taylor’s book is uniquely situated to assist anyone involved in depth psychology, pastoral care, traditional counseling or human services. Any helping professional will find it both intriguing and insightful. Kylea Taylor’s assessment of the vulnerabilities inherent in the therapeutic process and the effects of the work on the therapist are brilliant and useful. Kylea Taylor reveals the myriad of personal and collective, conscious and unconscious dynamics present in the room.

Invaluable and vital for anyone who takes inner psychological or spiritual work seriously, this text is both instructive and illuminating and is often eagerly and voluntarily read by students and professionals alike. No other book articulates the personal, professional, and relational issues involved with extraordinary states of consciousness as well as the intense and profound experiences encountered in traditional therapy work. 

 ~ Dr. Jane Steinhauser, D.Min., Licensed Professional Counselor, counselor educator and spiritual direction trainer 

[It’s] … important to think about how to go beyond what is proper or legal to what is best. Taylor’s approach does this. She’s not satisfied with just avoiding preventable problems. Her goal, instead, is to help her readers create and maintain “right relationship” with their clients. She’s also concerned to help practitioners develop an internal locus of control, a strong personal sense of wise, kind and helpful ways to work with people, an ethic of care instead of rules. Because of this, you won’t find dogmatic judgmental statements in this book. Instead, Taylor takes a nuanced and compassionate approach. By understanding how good people become confused about what they should or should not do, we are both warned and strengthened. Her chapters on money, sex, and power contain some of the most insightful discussions of these complex issues that I have ever seen.

~ Judy Harrow, excerpted review in the New Jersey Association for Spiritual, Ethical & Religious Values in Counseling Newsletter.

Especially important for the practitioner are Taylor’s chapters on vulnerabilities to unethical behavior, and keys to professional ethical behavior.

~ Brendan Reed, Lac, in Book Review from The Library Letter, Bastyr University

Too often, ethical questions are considered dreary subjects best left to a committee. This book helps us see ethics as integrally related to how we do our work, and to our own personal growth... The Ethics of Caring will be especially valuable for trainee caregivers, supervisors, clients looking for the appropriate therapist, and any professionals who finds themselves, as we all do from time to time, out of our depth. Comprehensive and visionary.

~ Martin Boroson, author of Becoming Me and One Moment Meditation

The Ethics of Caring alerts healers to not underestimate… the palpable physical, emotional, and psychic vulnerabilities that come in these states and provides tools for navigating these deep and often confusing relationship elements. Only by understanding their own vulnerabilities can caregivers hope to enter more fully into truly healing relationships with their clients.

~ Mid-West Book Review

The Ethics of Caring is a state-of-the-art approach to dealing with relationship issues and in particular body contact arising in therapy. Her courage will inspire others to tackle issues which break open the boundary between politics and individual experience.

~ Arnold Mindell, Ph.D., author of The Quantum Mind and Healing, Working with the Dream Body, and Sitting in the Fire.

This is a unique book addressing in an honest and humble way the dangers and pitfalls that all therapists face daily in their practices. It offers a conceptual framework which is widely accepted outside our culture, but has not been previously discussed in any standard texts on either ethics or therapeutic interpersonal dynamics.

~ Robert R. Newport, M.D.

The Ethics of Caring is ambitious and visionary and I love that you have created a consistent workable framework that recognises that the healer and patient are both part of something so much bigger than what we can see and measure.

~David Still, Author of the trilogy, It's Our Earth Too


Table of Contents: 


Praise for The Ethics of Caring

The Ethics of Caring





SECTION  I...........The Ethics of Caring™ Model

CHAPTER 1...........Inner Ethics™ and Right Relationship........... 35

Do no harm: Know thyself

Most professional relationships work best when two ethical elements are present

The ethical relationship itself is healing

Learning from ethical missteps

CHAPTER 2...........Honoring the Web of Life........... 39

Why are we doing the work we do?

We are working with more than the individual client

Human interconnection to each other and all living beings

Ethical development requires acknowledgment of relationship

What is “ethics” anyway?

Ethics involves the most interesting areas of life

Moving toward wholeness and congruency

Ethics goes beyond law and guidelines

When are ethical decisions based on relationship rather than abstract principles

What is ethical behavior?

External vs. internal locus of control

CHAPTER 3...........Considering Our Ethical Vulnerabilities  with Compassion and Curiosity........... 51

Why we avoid “ethics”

Awareness and self-compassion are essential to ethical behavior

Curiosity is our ally in approaching self-discovery

Every ethical misstep is driven by a healing impulse

Self-Reflection yields personal as well as professional rewards

CHAPTER 4...........Attending to the Client’s Side of the Professional Relationship........... 55

Power dynamics occur in most helping relationships

Although we don’t really know what the client is experiencing, we can assume the client feels vulnerable

Protection, Permission, Connection: Using power to empower




“Disconnection” in the context of Connection

Assume transference

Chart of Professional Vulnerabilities to Ethical Misconduct

CHAPTER 5...........The Ethics of Caring Model........... 63

A model to help with therapeutic relationships and their challenges

The Centers

The line through the Centers symbolizes right relationship

Right relationship of the client and professional to each other

Each Center has its issues of transference and countertransference.

What are our vulnerabilities as professionals?

Disregard for the client

Professional burnout or compassion fatigue

“It’s my turn!”

Ignorance of the pitfalls

The taboo against sharing our experiences

Preventing ethical missteps

Defending ourselves from feeling unethical

Keys to Professional Ethical Behavior

When we are the most vulnerable to unethical behavior

Each Center holds suggestions for self-reflection

SECTION II...........Profound Client/Professional Relationships Intense Client Experiences

CHAPTER 6...........When Profound Experiences Occur  in the Professional Relationship........81

Why a professional should know about extraordinary states of consciousness

The continuum between ordinary and extraordinary states

What is an ordinary state of consciousness?

What is an extraordinary state of consciousness?

What is a mild extraordinary state of consciousness?

What is a deep extraordinary state of consciousness?

Extraordinary states do occur spontaneously in ordinary therapy and other professional situations

The expansive experience is healing

Working with the expanded paradigm in the context of religion

The corrective experience: Healing the wounds of omission and commission

CHAPTER 7...........Ethical Attention to Clients’ Needs in Extraordinary States........... 97

Ethics in the context of profound work with clients.

Spontaneously occurring extraordinary states of consciousness

The professional relationship itself is what is healing

Extraordinary client states and profound experiences require greater attention to ethics

The need for special competencies in the caregiving professional

The need for greater attention to safety issues

The importance of set and setting

Informed consent for work in extraordinary states

Examples of agreements a client might make are

Greater client suggestibility in profound work

Greater client security needs in extraordinary states

The benefit of understanding a regressed client’s primary language

Physical touch issues should be considered

Is it sometimes unethical not to touch a client?

Adequate time for integration should be allotted during and after profound experiences

Cognitive dissonance can be greater in profound work

Understanding somatic/psychospiritual crisis

Client’s needs for nurturing and spiritual connection

Subtle and compelling countertransference issues

Profound states teach ethics

CHAPTER 8...........Extraordinary Client Experiences and How to Support Them........... 125

Biographical Flashbacks

Trauma re-enactment (abreaction)

Emotionally charged imagery and psychic flooding

Intense energy release phenomena

Deep relaxation and meditation

Contact with archetypal realms

Shamanic trance

Past life experiences

Reliving birth

Out of body experiences

Near death experiences

Unitive experiences and cosmic consciousness

UFO contact and abduction experiences


Differentiating between an extraordinary state of consciousness and psychosis

An expanded cartography or transpersonal paradigm must underlie all profound work

CHAPTER 9..........Therapeutically-Induced and Other Less Common,  More Intense and Profound Experiences........... 151

Inducing extraordinary states therapeutically


Massage and bodywork


Process-Oriented techniques

Expressive arts therapies

Music therapy, drumming, chanting, and singing

Network Chiropractic

Somatic Experiencing®


Meditation and prayer


Shamanic techniques

Sweat lodge, soul retrieval, fasting

Ingestion of sacred plants

Vision quests

CHAPTER 10...........Ethical Vulnerabilities in Transpersonal Work........... 159

A reminder about self-compassion

Particular vulnerabilities in profound or transpersonal work

The compelling nature of archetypal energies

Clients’ experiences affect professionals

Professionals must do their own personal deep work

What qualifies a professional to work with clients in extraordinary states of consciousness?

Group structure vs. individual work with clients

The non-directive therapeutic role in profound work

The need to move flexibly between directive and non-directive roles

The boundaries between client and professional may be more diffuse

The definition of appropriate touch may be different

Our unacknowledged longings (countertransference) for love and spiritual connection

Countertransference with a client in a kundalini opening

Kundalini is our essential developmental energy

Countertransference with a client in a psychic opening

Countertransference with a client in a shamanic opening

Countertransference with a client who is multiple

Exploitation of the client as a curiosity and a “case”

Who’s This For?

SECTION III...........The Seven Centers

CHAPTER 11...........Money—The First Center........... 191

Money—Personal issues in the First Center

Countertransference—The professional’s personal desires and fears related to Money

Transference—Client’s personal desires and fears related to Money

Countertransference—Professional’s spiritual longings and fears related to Money

Transference – Spiritual longings and fears of the client related to Money

Using the energy of Money appropriately

Appropriate use of Money during profound client process

Cross-Referencing issues of Money with the issues of the other Centers

Self-reflection related to Money

CHAPTER 12...........Sex—The Second Center........... 191

Sex—The Second Center

Countertransference—Professional’s personal desires and fears related to Sex

Countertransference from fear of sex

Countertransference from desire for sex

Countertransference regarding touch

Transference – Client’s personal desires and fears related to Sex

Transference and touching

Countertransference—Professional’s spiritual longings and fears related to Sex

Transference – Client’s spiritual longings and fears of the client related to Sex

Other intense emotions are related to the Second Center

Using the energy of Sex/Emotion/Body appropriately

Cross-referencing Sex issues with issues in the other Centers

Self-Reflection related to Sex

CHAPTER 13...........Power: The Third Center........... 211

Power—The Third Center

Countertransference—Professional’s personal desires and fears related to Power

Transference – Client’s personal desires and fears related to Power

Countertransference—Professional’s spiritual longings and fears related to Power

Transference – Client’s spiritual longings and fears related to Power

Using the energy of Power appropriately

Using the energy of Power appropriately in profound process

Professionals can turn it over to a Higher Power

Using Power to empower

Cross-Referencing Power issues with issues in the other Centers

Self-reflection related to Power

CHAPTER 14...........Love—The Fourth Center........... 225

Love—The Fourth Center

Countertransference—Professional’s personal desires and fears related to Love

Transference—Client’s personal desires and fears related to Love

Countertransference—Professional’s spiritual longings and fears related to Love

Transference – Client’s spiritual longings and fears related to Love

Using the energy of Love appropriately

Using the energy of Love appropriately in profound process

Cross-Referencing Love issues with issues in the other Centers

Self-Reflection related to Love

CHAPTER 15...........Truth—The Fifth Center........... 235

Truth—The Fifth Center

Countertransference—Professional’s personal desires and fears related to Truth

Transference – Client’s personal fears and desires related to Truth

Countertransference—Professional’s spiritual longings and fears related to Truth

Transference–Client’s spiritual longings and fears related to Truth

Using the energy of Truth appropriately

Using Truth appropriately in profound process

Cross-Referencing Truth issues with issues in the other Centers

Self-Reflection related to Truth

CHAPTER 16...........Insight—The Sixth Center........... 245

Insight—The Sixth Center

Countertransference—Professional’s personal desires and fears related to Insight

Transference – Client’s personal desires and fears related to insight

Countertransference—Professional’s Spiritual longings and fears related to Insight

Transference – Client’s spiritual longings and fears related to Insight

Using the energy of Insight appropriately

Using the energy of Insight appropriately in profound process

Cross-Referencing Insight with issues in the other Centers

Self-Reflection related to Insight

CHAPTER 17...........Oneness—The Seventh Center........... 253

Oneness—The Seventh Center

Countertransference—Professional’s personal desires, fears, and spiritual longings related to Oneness

Transference—Client’s personal desires, fears and spiritual longings related to Oneness

Countertransference—Professional’s spiritual longings and fears related to Oneness

Transference‑Client’s spiritual longings and fears related to Oneness

Using the energy of Oneness appropriately

Cross-Referencing Oneness with issues in the other Centers

Self-Reflection on Oneness

SECTION IV...........Ethical Caregiving in Community

CHAPTER 18...........The Keys to Professional Ethical Behavior........... 265

Caring for ourselves

Caring for our clients

Willingness to examine our own motivations

Willingness to tell the truth

Telling the truth to ourselves

Telling the truth to ourselves about our defense mechanisms

Defense mechanisms can be useful

Telling the truth to our peers

Talking about unethical experiences that are in the past

Talking about our vulnerability to future pitfalls

Talking about ethical vulnerabilities or unethical behavior that is current

What if the unethical action has already occurred?

Telling the truth to clients.

Willingness to ask for help (consultation) and to learn

CHAPTER 19........... Ethics and Dual Relationships........... 289

What is a dual relationship?

What makes a professional relationship ethical is often subtle

The anonymity of urban living vs. village living: the cultural effect on dual relationship ethics

How do we allow for client development within a professional relationship?

Ethical guidelines on dual relationships

Twelve Step recovery group members and dual relationships

Teachers and dual relationships

Clergy and dual relationships

A clergyperson is required to handle multiple roles and relationships

The family doctor and the shaman both had dual (or multiple) relationships

The intricacy of mentoring

Providing protection, permission, and connection throughout the mentoring process

CHAPTER 20........... Ethical Community........... 299

Incentives for ethical community

Punitive consequences as deterrents

Positive inducements as incentives for self-exploration

Ethics in organizations

“Ethical fading”

Reinforcing ethical practices and values

Truth-Telling and organizational integrity

The “leader of a movement” syndrome

Organizational support for personal growth of practitioners

Uniting to defend the ethics and efficacy of a new method

Humane response to ethics problems

Working to change codes as necessary

CHAPTER 21...........Creating Ethical Guidelines........... 317

Expanding ethical consciousness through written ethical codes or agreements

Preambles to ethical codes

Ethical codes and Money (First Center)

Ethical codes and Sex (Second Center)

Ethical codes and Power (Third Center)

Ethical codes and Love (Fourth Center)

Ethical codes and Truth (Fifth Center)

Ethical codes and Insight (Sixth Center)

Ethical codes and Oneness (Seventh Center)

Ethical codes and authentic caring

Ethical codes and willingness to examine our own motivations

Ethical codes and willingness to ask for help

Principles for educators

Skilled analysis of therapeutic and counter-therapeutic interventions in cases of alleged ethical misconduct

Creating our own inner “ethical codes”

Glossary........... 333

References........... 339

Organizations whose work has been helpful in writing this book........... 349


About the Author........... 357

Book Excerpts: 

From the Preface...

I have come to believe that a close examination of ethical issues and of our personal interest in ethical right relationship could involve more than merely rote learning of a set of external rules and hearing how to protect ourselves from the perils of legal prosecution. I believe now that such an examination gives us precious insights into ourselves and our sacred relationships with our clients. These insights affect our clients and their therapeutic outcomes at least as deeply as what we learn from any other part of our professional training.

One of the most important concepts of the caring professions in modern times is the idea that what the professional brings to the caring situation as a person, is a more important influence on the outcome of the care, therapy, education, medical service, bodywork, or mentoring than the choice of technique she or he employs in giving the care. The therapist must have the ability to travel deeply and empathetically with the client, sometimes into uncharted, even frightening, territory, sometimes at a moment’s notice, and provide supportive presence at the moment the client’s material arises within a session.

In order to navigate effectively, the professional must have experience with the territory the client is traveling. The professional must have an understanding of the challenges and the pain that may be encountered. Most important is that professional can convey trust (verbally and non-verbally), assuring the client that it will be safe enough and that it is ultimately healing to travel through these areas, and that it there is significant hope that the client will come all the way through to a healing outcome. Professional training which incorporates emphasis on self-examination and experiential, inner exploration enables therapists and other professionals to gain the familiarity and confidence that are necessary to hold the light for others’ explorations of difficult terrain. (from The Ethics of Caring, pp. xxvii-xxviii)

Learning from ethical missteps

Right relationship includes the process of unintentionally mis-stepping. One then is challenged to lovingly forgive oneself in order to quickly transition back into the dance of relationship and into synch again.

Sometimes one partner in right relationship leads and the other follows, sometimes both surrender to letting the motion itself lead them to delightfully synchronous steps. It is quite beautiful when both right relationship “dancers” are conscious of their bodily energies, their values, and their needs, and when they are committed to moving together in the service of the client's healing.

The goals symbolized by harmonious dancing may include: assisting with change and transformation in therapy, encouraging a patient with medical healing or in birthing, mentoring and empowering someone so they feel able to manifest what they want and give what they have to contribute, following a student’s curiosity as a teacher, coaching a client to success and joy in business, providing alliance and guidance for a client’s inquiry about spiritual direction, and sitting with another person at the end of life in such a way that the dying person feels allied, understood, and supported.

It is beautiful and rewarding when both partners in the professional/client relationship are committed to awareness of this dance and its goals. On the other hand, it is awkward, at the very least, and even can be dangerous to both “sets of toes” when one or both are not so committed. Always, however, the ultimate responsibility, for this awareness and for negotiating the “dance floor” safely in the professional/client relationship, rests with the professional.

This book is about professional relational ethics, how we find that sweet spot of right relationship with an “other.” It is about how we do the work of inner ethics and our own self-discovery and course-correction so that we can inhabit that constantly moving zone of right relationship. It is about how doing so contributes to a healing field where our increased awareness nourishes us and supports not only ourselves and our goals, but also supports the systems to which both the professional and the client belong.

Ethics has to do with the most interesting parts of human life: money (exchange), sex, relationship, self-understanding, power, love, truth, insight, and mysticism. Ethics, like sex (which it often seems to concern) is arousing, engaging, and often amusing. The consideration of ethics has the potential to expand self-knowledge and self-concept and to improve relationships.

In summary, ethics is about relationship. It is about the inner relationships of our values to actions. It is about the interaction between one belief and another, one desire and another, one fear and another. Ethics is about how we view and treat “the other” in our personal and professional communities. Ethics is the process by which we sort out what best creates inner and outer harmony in our lives and in the lives of those we care for. (from The Ethics of Caring, pp. 36-37)

Why are we doing the work we do?

Ethical behavior stems from the internal congruency and harmony between our values and our actions, between the value we have of wanting to do our best for our clients and our actual willingness to bring our best awareness and skills to that task.

Our very first self-reflection must be on our reasons for taking on the professional role we have chosen. Once we know that core motivation, we can go back to it again and again when we are confused by the centrifugal forces and chaos of incidents, personalities, and the many details on the periphery.

Sometimes the reason we are in a role is central to our life purpose. It is what we feel we are here to do, what we feel are our gifts we want to share with others. Sometimes the reason is a temporary one, and that is good to know, too. It is useful in that case to check back to find our core purpose to which this temporary goal relates.

We are working with more than the individual client

We must be willing to deepen our personal awareness in order to learn more about our own motivations. We must be willing to discover the point at which our unique qualities are in the best balance to serve others. And we must also be willing to widen our understanding of the external contexts and connections that affect our professional relationships.

We are working with all the client’s associations as well as with the client

For example, the professional works with not only all parts of a client––the biographical history, the state of the body, the moods, the roles, the personality parts, the client’s interests and goals, the client’s symbolic and dream life––but also with those people and associations to whom the client is connected. The therapist and other professional thus works also, even if not in person, with the client’s partner, the client’s family and ancestors, the client’s workplace, the client’s ethnic or religious culture, the community associations the client has, and all other parts of the network to which the client is connected.

We are working with the client’s disconnections also

The professional often works also, just as importantly, with those parts of the network from which the client has become disconnected, the family members the client may have cut off, the religion the client is rebelling against, the neighbors to whom the client is no longer speaking, and the inner spiritual or professional callings the client has not yet heeded.

The professional is working with all these elements, even when they don’t come up explicitly in the client’s words.

A clergyperson works not only with a member of the congregation, but with the member’s family, the congregation as a whole, and the community in which the spiritual congregation worships. Any professional is working with all the numerous aspects and associations one person has: physical, emotional, cognitive, social, creative, economic, cultural, existential, and spiritual.

Physical healers weigh external input to the individual, such as the quality of air, water, food, and intake of chemicals that affect the body/mind. Emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual healers do likewise and also take into account the racial, ethnic, sociological, and religious cultures and belief systems of both the professional and the client, and the greater socioeconomic and political systems (and perhaps even the cosmological systems) within which the therapeutic, educational, or spiritual relationship exists.

Coaches and educators will also recognize that some of the elements mentioned above have presented themselves from the wider field into specific work they are doing with a client or student. Perhaps it is something they learn while they are actually with a client, or perhaps they discover something new about the wider field in presenting or marketing themselves or exploring an academic subject. Often this kind of discovery is a kind of gateway that opens a professional to unexpected influences. The professional enters new territory and this usually results in surprising opportunities for personal as well as professional development.

Human interconnection to each other and all living beings

An ethic of relationship must address the web of relationship that extends beyond immediate personal relationships to people of other races and nations and to all living things. In a speech given at Stanford University in 1994, Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel spoke of what he called the “forgotten dimension of democracy…that spiritual dimension that connects all cultures and in fact all humanity.” He spoke about the ethics of politics being an ability to see the commonality in humanity, and said, “many politicians or regimes espouse these ideas in words but do not apply them in practice.”

Havel’s message was that a transcendent viewpoint (a spiritual perspective beyond personal, ethnic, religious, or chauvinistic viewpoints) would result in ethical relationship on a global scale. He said that loss of respect for our transcendental origins “always leads to loss of respect for everything else, from the laws people have made for themselves, to the life of their neighbours and of our living planet.”

The principle of interconnection that Havel expresses is what I will call the “web of life.” The “web of life” metaphor describes the fact that we are all in this together, not only sociopolitical systems and ethnic groups, but all beings. This can be demonstrated in many ordinary tangible ways.

Humans are interconnected in our financial relationships and daily conversations. We all feel the impact on us of community, national, and world events. We see our web like a field of connection daily in our computer “contacts” files and social networking interactions, and perhaps even in our more subtle connections, such as in dreams and thoughts that include others, and even in the collective unconscious, described by C. G. Jung, in which all humans share archetypal experience.

Deena Metzger (2002) writes in her profound book about healing entitled Entering the Ghost River how she discovered her own physical cancer was related to (and healed by) much more than she could have imagined before her personal experience of illness:

Through cancer, I was being educated about the ways of illness as both private and public events. My mind went back and forth between my own fate and the fate of the community. Afterward as a healer, I knew I must never give my attention only to the individual circumstances of those who consulted me; it was right and proper to be equally preoccupied with the state of the world…(p. 22)

The web of life is demonstrated also by the mysterious phenomenon of synchronicity, by research demonstrating the power of prayer, by shamanic healing mechanisms, and by the capacity of the professional love, one of the six kinds of love defined by anthropologist Angeles Arrien (1993, p. 52), the positive regard of one person to be therapeutic to another.

We speak more ethically and act more ethically when we begin to widen our view to see and honor the web-like context of relationship that weaves among the strands connecting professional and client. That web connects the systems extending beyond the walls of the treatment room, consulting room, or classroom into family, culture, ecosystem, all beings on the Earth, and even perhaps extends our honoring into unseen dimensions, beyond the boxes of the current paradigms and belief systems within which we assume we live in modern culture.

Ethical development requires acknowledgment of relationship

If ethics is the study of relationship, then transcending the limited viewpoint that we are unrelated, wholly separate, is essential for ethical development. Transcendent viewpoint (the ability to perceive the interconnectedness) develops within one person at a time. It can happen simultaneously in groups, even large groups, but the transcendent experience is still an internal one, not an external one. A metaphor for transcendence of the self through inner work is this one: We all have to dive into our own well to reach the underground river that connects all sources of water.

Those who have been for some time conscious professionals: healers, educators, nurses, physicians, ministers, and bodyworkers, know that the healing works both ways. Although their focus is on their clients, the students, members of congregation, and patients, still, the relationship, in which these individuals were the clients, has also been healing for the professionals. It has taught them, and made them ever better at what they do for others.

All forms of professional caregiving are contexts for the growth of the transcendent cultural viewpoint. Among the means by which we expand our ability to realize our relatedness are our relationships: one-on-one experiences, parenting and family relationships, partnership and teamwork at home and at work, spiritual fellowship, and group association and ceremony. Philosopher, Charles Eisenstein (2013) goes further to say:

“Interdependency,” which implies a conditional relationship, is far too weak a word for this nonseparation of self and other. My claim is much stronger that the self is not absolute or discrete but contingent, relationally defined, and blurrily demarcated….There is no self except in relationship to the other. (p. 20).

And Albert Einstein (1950) in his letter included in her book by Alice Calaprice (2005) put it this way:

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. (p. 206)

When our belief systems have expanded so that we are intimately sensitive to the connection among us all, we appreciate community. We discover the benefit from the mirroring and understanding of others who also feel and support that expanded perspective. If the professional is not supported sufficiently by culture and community, a dis-ease or dissonance occurs between the internal truth of her perception and the external mirroring by others that she experiences. (from The Ethics of Caring, pp.39-44)



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