Article 1 ( Beyond the NASW Code of Ethics – Part I )
The authors have acquired experience in, and opinions on, ethical decision making while serving on a (U.S.) National Association of Social Workers (NASW) peer consultation ethics call line. The authors agree with scholars who view all human perceptions and activities as shaped by values, with the concurrent need to become more self-conscious about the ethical dimension of our daily life and professional practice. It is argued that our social work code of ethics is a necessary but insufficient tool for ethical decision making. The Code of Ethics (National Association of Social Workers, 1996) is frequently used as a risk management tool, offering guidelines for practice which may or may not be compatible with the goals of social justice for which social work ideally stands. Additionally, the unique and unexpected ways ethical issues emerge in clinical practice work against attempts to apply the Code as a rule book. Distinctions between ethical, legal, and clinical issues are difficult, given that the two latter domains have inevitable ethical implications. The authors urge readers to supplement a model of purely rational, ethical decision making with their emotions and intuition as shaped by our culture and our profession. Ethical judgments are best made in small groups where members bring different perspectives and intuitions to the process while agreeing on basic humanistic values.
Article 2 ( Beyond the NASW Code of Ethics – Part II )
The authors, both social work educators, serve on an ethics call line committee that provides insights on how the provisions of the (United States) National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics (NASW, 1996) interface with the ethical dilemmas encountered by the social work community. In this paper, the authors highlight aspects of social work practice that they consider ethical, yet not easily accommodated by the provisions of the current Code. They also question the 1996 introduction of the concept of dual relationships into the Code and suggest that the Code adopt the less ambiguous term of boundary violations. Also recognized by the authors is the need for clear boundaries for the protection of clients against temptations that might arise in a fiduciary relationship, and for the legal protection of social workers. But, the authors argue, social work practitioners in certain settings, with particular populations, and in certain roles, inevitably face multiple relationships as an integral aspect of their work. The authors conclude that social work’s adoption of the psychoanalytic constrains of anonymity, neutrality, and abstinence has detoured the profession from its original double focus on individuals and their society.
Article I: Complexities of Ethical Decision Making in Social Work Practice
The Values of Our Profession
The Code of Ethics
A Challenge to Pure Reason
Opportunities for Dialogue
Beyond the Code of Ethics
Article II: Dual Relationships Revisited
History of the Code of Ethics and the Introduction of Dual Relationships
The Need for Clear Boundaries
The Meaning of Dual Relationships
Boundary Issues in Non-clinical Practice Settings
Boundary Issues in Clinical Settings
Consecutive Dual Relationships
Philosophical Orientations: Feminist, Empowerment, and Postmodern Approaches to Practice
Conclusions and Recommendations
This course is based on the reading-based online article, Beyond the NASW Code of Ethics created by Sophie Freud and Stefan Krug
2002 /Vol. 83, No. 5/6
Course Material Authors
Course Material Authors authored the material only, and were not involved in creating this CE course. They are identified here for your own evaluation of the relevancy of the material this course is based on.
Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Program
Simmons College School of Social Work
This course is recommended for social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other human services and behavioral health professionals who seek knowledge about ethics. It is appropriate for participants with intermediate to advanced levels of knowledge about the topic.
After taking this course, you should be able to:
describe elements and practices that can complement and inform the use of the NASW Code of Ethics.
describe some of the potential strengths and limitations of the NASW Code of Ethics.
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