Date:  Thursday, February 21st, 2019
Time:  7:30 pm
Place:  Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC Campus, 515 West Hastings Street (between Seymour and Richards Streets) in the Diamond Alumni Lounge on the second floor
Speaker:  Catherine Racine PhD
Topic:  Speaking of wonder: The ethics of care in community mental health and the moral process of the clinician.

Brief Biography:

I am a recent graduate of Durham University in the United Kingdom where I lived for six years and completed Ph.D. studies in 2017.  The title of my thesis: “Beyond Clinical Reduction: Levinas, the Ethics of Wonder and the Practice of Autoethnography in Community Mental Health Care” offers an unflinching moral portrayal of my work as a clinical counsellor in community mental health.

I am a member of the Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars, the American Philosophical Practitioners Association, and currently renewing membership with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors. Having recently returned to Canada to live, I am in the early stages of developing a writing, consulting and a counselling business that will place the ethical concerns of clinical practice, and the vulnerability of the help-seeker, at the centre.

My research interests include narrative and the ethics of clinical practice, wonder and mysticism, Emmanuel Levinas and the moral process of the clinician, feminist praxis, humanist and Buddhist psychologies, social justice and the ethics of care in community mental health, autoethnography, memoir and poetry.


Speaking of wonder: The ethics of care in community mental health and the moral process of the clinician. This talk presents highlights of my thesis work that examine the meaning of wonder in the context of community mental health care and the ethical impact of wonder on the institutional “entrancement” of the mental health clinician. The compelling draw of wonder is discussed theoretically and narratively to consider how and also if wonder can “awaken” the mental health clinician from the dehumanizing perspective of institutional care. This is the perspective that contributes to the clinician’s emotional disengagement and the ethical dilution which dehumanize the vulnerable help-seeker. I will touch on autoethnography and the visionary ethics of Emmanuel Levinas that I used in my thesis to illuminate my lived experience and ethical process as a clinician.

Autoethnography is still a controversial and emerging strand of moral research that draws intimately on the affective narrative experience of the researcher and it allows the researcher to call for radical institutional change—albeit enigmatically. The visionary ethics of Emmanuel Levinas helps theorize our final understanding of wonder by recovering and reclaiming the holiness at the heart of the healing relationship. Within this relationship lies the clinician’s ultimate responsibility, apprehended through the stunning approach of the vulnerable help seeker’s Face. In Levinasian terms, this is the Face that elicits the clinician’s deepest desire by extending an ethical invitation –an imperative – that the clinician will, nonetheless, almost inevitably fail to answer.

Categories: Lecture