In this chapter we attempt to lift counselling practice from its general context in order to examine the political aspects that affect the specific contexts in which the therapeutic relationship takes place; in particular, various aspects of power and the potential abuses of power, and the implication of these for assessment. Generally, abuses of power are assumed to be avoidable if the counsellor holds the ‘right’ values and adheres to a desirable set of ethical principles. Although aspects of counsellor values and principles will be discussed at various points in this chapter, we do not intend to promote a particular code of practice, largely on the grounds that ‘… the client is typically less concerned with these personal abstractions [values and principles] than with the personal and moral qualities of the practitioner offering the service’ (Ashcroft, 2001, p. 11, our emphasis).
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