Therapeutic Pedagogy: Thoughts on Integral Professional Formation
University of Puerto Rico Law Review, Vol. 78, pp. 167-182, 2009
17 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2008 Last revised: 13 May 2014
Date Written: December 5, 2008
Most law school curricula create few, if any, opportunities for students to reflect in an intentional, structured, and sustained manner on a fundamental element at the nexus between flourishing both as a person and as a professional: integration. Law students are on a journey of professional formation, and this journey is one that cannot be separated from the journey of personal evolution that students are simultaneously undergoing. It is neither possible nor desirable to separate or compartmentalize this development as a professional from the inevitable personal transformation that is also occurring during those several years one spends pursuing a J.D.
If we want students to enjoy careers as "happy, healthy, and ethical" members of our otherwise "unhappy, unhealthy, and unethical profession," we must create a space for these burgeoning professionals to integrate their personal inner world - wherein lies the wellspring of deep meaning and profound purpose - with their professional outer world bounded by obligations to clients, employers, the court, and society. Drawing upon theories and evidence provided by scholars working in the worlds of humanizing legal education and therapeutic jurisprudence, this paper suggests that a "therapeutic pedagogy" attempting to illuminate a student's inner world and move her towards integration of personal passions and professional commitments can better prepare students to "think like a professional" - a more holistic goal of legal education that would integrate: 1) the ability to rigorously apply legal theory to relevant facts and analytical judgment to judicial opinions, administrative regulations, and legislative statutes with 2) the ability to reflect upon, discern, and develop a practical wisdom that is in harmony with the lawyer's authentic self.
Keywords: Professional responsibility, professionalism, ethics, therapeutic jurisprudence, humanizing, integral, IL
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