Social work is a values-based profession; as such, social workers are expected to adhere to professional ethical standards, which include a specific commitment to the “vulnerable and oppressed.”
Ethics represent an integral part of competent social work practice, and entering this profession means that you agree to uphold and abide by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics. The NASW Code of Ethics is founded upon six core values from which the ethical standards are framed. The code outlines the ethical responsibilities social workers apply to 1) clients, 2) colleagues, 3) in practice settings, 4) as professionals, 5) to the social work profession, and 6) to the broader society.
This week, you examine the NASW Code of Ethics and apply an ethical decision-making framework to a specific dilemma.
- Evaluate ethical dilemmas in social work using an ethical decision-making framework
- Analyze influence of professional social work standards on ethical decision making
- Apply social work concepts to social work practice scenarios
Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hull, G. H., Jr. (2018). Understanding generalist practice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Chapter 11, “Values, Ethics, and the Resolution of Ethical Dilemmas” (pp. 419–465)
National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English.aspx
Discussion: Resolving Ethical Dilemmas
If there is a right and wrong answer, there is no ethical dilemma. An ethical dilemma occurs when one or more competing ethical principles must be considered and weighed against each other.
Social workers serve individuals, families, and communities who experience complex problems for which there are rarely simple solutions, or right or wrong answers. As such, social workers use the NASW Code of Ethics to identify the various ethical principles and standards that will guide ethical decision making.
In this Discussion, you apply social work ethics as you analyze an ethical dilemma.
To prepare: Consider the ethical decision-making framework outlined in this week’s resources by Reamer (2002). Select one of the following options and engage in the first few steps of the ethical decision-making process, including consultation with colleagues through your response posts.
As technology advances, so do the ways that social workers can connect with clients. Is it acceptable to look at a client’s activities on social media or seek information through an Internet search? Should a social worker allow clients to contact them by text or e-mail? How does a social worker’s personal social media presence influence the worker/client relationship?
Consider the presence of dual relationships in social work practice. What are examples of non-harmful and harmful dual relationships between clients and workers? How do social workers determine if dual relationships are harmful to a client?
Your Instructor will post a social work ethical dilemma related to a current event.
By Day 3
- Describe a specific ethical dilemma based on one of the options above.
- Describe the ethical issues in the option chosen.
- Identify specific values or ethical standards that apply.
- Identify who is likely to be affected by the ethical dilemma.
- Describe potential courses of action.
- Examine reasons in favor of or opposed to the course of action.