First Published in “The Psychotherapist” March 2009

“A map is not the territory … The only usefulness of a map depends on similarity of structure between the empirical world and the map….”

Alfred Korzybski

My time on the Ethics Committee of UKCP has alerted me to numerous longings, from individuals and organisations, to have some external authority of righteous wisdom, to preside over all difficult situations that we face in the arenas of practice, training and supervising.

Even better, to have such an authority neatly packaged into an all encompassing, written dictum, (preferably less than 1000 words long). Ethical choices could then become a process of simple reference, without doubt, regret, disagreement or reprisal – “It said in the code of ethics…”

To this outcome, any Ethics Committee will always disappoint.

Ethical practice is a dynamic, complex, swirl of events, set within a relationship that includes therapist, client and the wider social field.

This introduction uses the metaphors of map (cognitively constructed codes), territory (sensorily experienced practice) and cartography – map-making, or processes of mediation between these two ways of processing information in exploring what is best to do, and when, in ethical psychotherapy.

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