The Ethics of Labeling: A conversation with Gwenda Willis, PhD, PGDipClinPsyc

Recorded on July 23, 2020

Guest Speaker: Gwenda Willis

In a 2017 paper, Gwenda Willis, with the assistance of others along the way, asked the question that resulted in massive changes in practice and policy in several countries around the world. Why do we call people by what we don’t want them to be?

As she explains it in in the journal Psychology, Crime, and Law, labelling a person by their past behavior or a criminal conviction is commonplace throughout forensic and correctional psychology. These labels (including “offender” and “sex offender”) infiltrate academic writing and conference presentations, names of professional organizations and treatment programs and, at times, traverse therapeutic work. That such labels are frequently used and rarely advocated against suggests that helping professionals either (i) don’t recognize labelling as an ethical issue, or (ii) don’t consider it their role to challenge.

This webinar conversation develops these ideas and explores implications for practitioners.

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