Ethics in Social Work Practice
The term, ethics is defined as a set of moral principles and convictions about what is right versus wrong, and the consequent behavior of an individual, group, profession, or culture. And the term values are an integral part of social work education, the educational background of practitioners may also influence the use of a decision-making process. The NASW has an established Code of Ethics, (1996) for the profession.
And the code applies not only to social workers but also to social work students. In addition, social worker must follow the Code regardless of the professional functions they perform, the setting they work in, or the populations they serve. The Code summarizes broad ethical principles that reflect the profession’s core values and establishes a set of specific ethical standards that you should use to guide your social work practice.
And the primary mission of the social work profession according to the Code, is “to enhance the human well-being and help meet basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty”(p. 1). The six core values of the profession relate to service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity and competence.
Therefore, social workers should always use these principles and standards to guide their decision-making in professional situations involving matters of ethics. When making decisions in such matters your primary source should be the Code of Ethics, In addition, you should also consider other sources of information, such as ethical theory, social work theory, relevant laws and regulations, your agency’s policies, other codes that apply, when necessary, any moral-professional judgments that you need to make in order to fully examine the issue at hand.
Therefore the Code’s principles and standards should guide in the professional relationship with those you serve, your colleagues, your employers, other individuals and professions, and the community and society as a whole. The Code of Ethics obliges a social worker to ensure due consideration in the best interest of the clients and that their primary duty is to advance the well-being of the clients.
Thus, when applying the Code, the social work need to take into consideration the specific nature of the situation, as well as recognize that conflicts are present, among the Code’s specific principles and standards. Therefore, the need to apply an educated judgment. For instances, when deciding an ethical issues, the context will often determine which principles or standards apply as well as how to apply them. As a social worker, one must comply with the regulations, policies, and procedures of the agency, organizations, and voluntary associations you work with .
And as a social worker, in the jail system, I have been confronted with the ethical dilemma, but I always apply the policy and procedure of the agency to influence my sense of judgments toward the discharge of my duties. For example, my faith, and, culture is not receptive to homosexual, whereas the policy does not discriminate against any inmate, and as such all should be treated equally, fairly, and, in a consistent manner. In addition, the core value of the social work practice, which centers on helping the vulnerable members of the society influences the cause of my work.
Therefore, social worker’s values and ethics are intended to help practitioners recognize the morally correct way to practice, and to decide how to act correctly in specific professional situations. As ethical dilemmas are typically defined in terms of competing values, the internalization of professional values should lead a social worker to identify readily ethical issues when confronted with conflicting values and use those conflicting values as a way to initiate ethical discussion and deliberation.