Where Social Workers Can Go to Answer Ethical Questions

Social Worker Resource
September 2, 2013 — 1,842 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

When ethical or legal dilemmas make themselves apparent, as is bound to happen to virtually anyone in the social work profession, there are a few key resources that will help to clarify how to proceed, who can offer help, and how local laws or regulations can be employed to defuse the situation. Each of these resources offers a unique perspective that can be useful in certain situations.

1. The National Association of Social Workers' Code of Ethics

Without a doubt, the largest professional organization governing the social work profession is the National Association of Social Workers, which has long produced an extensive code of ethics that governs everything from client meetings to the management of a larger practice. The association's code of ethics has essentially become the de facto source for resolving legal and ethical dilemmas, and most practices include it in their own employee handbooks and employment materials. When any issue arises, consult this resource first and foremost.

2. Employer Handbooks and Employee Guides

To help avoid ethical or legal challenges in the first place, virtually all practices develop an extensive employee guide or handbook that makes clear the nature of local laws and regulations, federal statute, employee responsibilities, and ethical concerns. This secondary point of reference should be used for any workplace or coworker disputes, and it should also serve as a point of reference for any individual ethical concerns that might arise from time to time.

3. State and Federal Laws or Guidelines Concerning the Profession

Social work is governed by an extensive series of laws and guidelines issued by both state governments and federal authorities. These regulations govern anything from how a social worker should handle certain situations or clients to the necessity of strict privacy approaches and avoiding disclosure of certain information. If a large ethical or legal challenge has presented itself, it might be best to consult the very source of regulation governing that dilemma in the first place.

Social Worker Resource