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Article

What can systemic psychotherapy offer clinical practice and public debates on assisted dying?: Assisted dying and systemic psychotherapy

Citation
Forbat L (2018) What can systemic psychotherapy offer clinical practice and public debates on assisted dying?: Assisted dying and systemic psychotherapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 40 (3), pp. 413-427. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6427.12171

Abstract
Debates around assisted dying have not to date been informed by family and systemic psychotherapy. This article sets the context of legalized assisted dying with a précis of the international terrain. Case examples of people facing terminal or chronic illness are presented alongside the research literature, to illustrate the bio‐psycho‐social domains inhabited by those seeking assisted dying. The article then presents a case for what systemic psychotherapy has to offer, suggesting a range of approaches, methods and techniques. Following core tenets of systemic psychotherapy, the article is not predicated on an either/or standpoint. Rather, neutrality and curiosity are centralized, to facilitate discussion, debate and new insights. The article concludes that systemic psychotherapists have a latent and untapped skill‐set in understanding the repercussions of someone who wants assisted dying. The profession can usefully contribute to and explicate understandings regarding the wider systemic reverberations of one person's desire to end their life, including the impact on family, clinicians and communities. Further, systemic practitioners can draw on specific family therapy theories and methods in order to both contribute to public debates, and to be key members of a multidisciplinary team providing direct support for families affected by assisted dying.

Keywords
right to die; family therapy; systemic psychotherapy; palliative; chronic illness; assisted dying; assisted suicide

Journal
Journal of Family Therapy: Volume 40, Issue 3

StatusPublished
Author(s)Forbat, Liz
Publication date30/08/2018
Publication date online21/05/2017
Date accepted by journal31/03/2017
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/27295
PublisherWiley
ISSN0163-4445
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