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On judgment and judgmentalism: how counselling can make people better
  1. S Gibson
  1. Correspondence to:
 S Gibson
 Division of Religion and Philosophy, St Martin’s College, Lancaster, LA1 3JD;


Counsellors, like other members of the caring professions, are required to practise within an ethical framework, at least in so far as they seek professional accreditation. As such, the counsellor is called upon to exercise her moral agency. In most professional contexts this requirement is, in itself, unproblematic. It has been suggested, however, that counselling practice does present a problem in this respect, in so far as the counsellor is expected to take a non-judgemental stance and an attitude of “unconditional positive regard” toward the client. If, as might appear to be the case, this stance and attitude are at odds with the making of moral judgments, the possibility of an adequate ethics of counselling is called into question. This paper explores the nature and extent of the problem suggesting that, understood in a Kantian context, non-judgmentalism can be seen to be at odds with neither the moral agency of the counsellor nor that of the client. Instead, it is argued, the relationship between the non-judgmental counsellor and her client is a fundamentally moral relationship, based on respect for the client’s unconditional worth as a moral agent.

  • counselling
  • ethics
  • autonomy
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Carl Rogers

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